Engineering Materials Blogs

Read the views and opinions from the materials community. Share your thoughts and write us a blog. Just email editor@materialsforengineering.co.uk and let us know your thoughts, dilemmas, questions and opinions.

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18/01/2016

Are we about to say goodbye to the steel industry?

The metals industry's woes continued this week, as Tata Steel, the UK’s largest producer, announced a further 1050 job cuts. While the material has seen a steady decline in demand by most major sectors, its actual manufacture tells another, more troubling, tale.  Read More

17/11/2015

The changing face of engineering

At the time of writing this, I’m at the LiveWorx conference in Germany. The event is run by PTC, which many will know as a CAD and PLM software provider. So, why is it turning its focus away from design and the management of engineering activities, to tell European press and analysts about the Internet of Things?  Read More

22/09/2015

Disruptive technology? More like frustrating promises and slow progress

We are living in an age of ‘disruptive technologies’. At least that’s what everyone keeps telling me. But for me, like many engineers, the promise of it all often falls short of being delivered. And it’s frustrating.  Read More

17/09/2015

Inspired by nature: the next generation of medical textiles

Chemists and materials scientists have long been inspired by Mother Nature. High-performance swimwear based on the texture of sharkskin, and smartphone screens that have learned from the naturally-antireflective coatings in moth eyes are just two high-profile examples. At the University of Bolton, we’re working on a range of bio-inspired materials that may change the way the human body heals itself.  Read More

13/07/2015

Is it time to take humans out of the loop?

I admit it, I'm a pretty terrible back seat driver. It is not so much that I'm particularly vocal with advice to others, it's more that I'm what's called 'a flincher'. Get too close, brake too late or even change lanes, and there I am, quietly tensing up, getting nervous and generally looking uncomfortable.  Read More

18/06/2015

How 'free' are you?

With the General Election now in the dim and distant past, it is time to look forward and get on with things. But, it's got me thinking, how 'free' are we, really?  Read More

04/06/2015

The right creative spark

Industrial designers do speak in a slightly different language to us engineers. At a recent conference the delegates, all industrial designers, were encouraged to get emotional, understand the human problems and even 'love the unknown'. I am not being sniffy or dismissive - these industrial designers were producing some truly beautiful and innovative products - even if it is the design engineers who have to make their concepts a reality.   Read More

14/04/2015

Why engineers should use the pragmatic vote at the election

This will be one of the last Eureka blogs before the General Election on May 7th 2015, after which, it is fairly safe to assume, we are in for some form of administration change – even if it is another coalition. Are we likely to see the Conservatives and Lib Dems partnering again? Probably not, but in a political climate in which principles seem secondary to pragmatism, you can't rule anything out, nor anything in.  Read More

06/03/2015

High volume composite manufacture finally here?

I remember talking to spacecraft engineers about composite materials over 15 years ago, and how the commercial aircraft industry would struggle to ever capitalise on the materials advantageous properties. And they did struggle, but it is hard to now ever imagine Boeing or Airbus ever going back to that low-tech heavy shiny stuff from yesteryear.  Read More

14/01/2015

Why I’m happy in January

January. It can be a bit of a long and depressing month can't it. But there is reason to be cheery.  Read More

13/11/2014

The cost of all this innovation

Is industry in danger of doing a bit of a bank job given this spending spree we're witnessing? Everyone agrees innovation is a good thing, but who exactly is paying for all this rejuvenation? It certainly isn't free.  Read More

20/10/2014

Informal chats, propping up the bar and being sent to Coventry...

It's here again and today, I'll be heading down to Coventry in the advanced party to the Engineering Design Show to set up, prop up the bar, and get ready for two pretty full on days.  Read More

29/09/2014

How do I get a metallic finish?

Metallic finishes can be achieved in a variety of ways depending on the substrate material, quantities involved and goal of the treatment. The following is a short review of the more common options that are commercially available.  Read More

15/09/2014

What to make of the ‘makers’

I thought I was getting too old to think about joining any sort of movement, particularly one with a reputation for having a bit of a cult following. I've heard murmurs about this 'maker movement' for some time now, but I've never quite got it.  Read More

11/09/2014

Being clear about clarity

We are often asked to produce prototypes of components with varying levels of clarity and translucency. The usual options are glass or plastic parts. When it comes to glass we have to admit defeat as soon as we move away from fundamentally flat geometries (although engraving is practical to some quite significant depths). However there are a number of options for clear or translucent plastic parts. In this blog, we take at look at your options…  Read More

22/07/2014

Is rail industry set to lightweight with composites?

Introducing exotic materials into sectors where metallic's have ruled, has always been a challenge for the composites industry. However, after making successful inroads in to the automotive sector, it has now set its sights on rail applications.  Read More

21/07/2014

The option when producing a prototype in metal – how to decide on process and materials

In most instances metal prototyping is going to cost more than producing the equivalent part in plastic, so your first question should be, do I really need it produced in metal? It might be worth considering some of the interesting RP applications/materials out there, such as metal coated stereolithography for instance – it would be more cost effective.  Read More

21/07/2014

The option when producing a prototype in metal – how to decide on process and materials

In most instances metal prototyping is going to cost more than producing the equivalent part in plastic, so your first question should be, do I really need it produced in metal? It might be worth considering some of the interesting RP applications/materials out there, such as metal coated stereolithography for instance – it would be more cost effective.  Read More

03/07/2014

Injection moulded low volume custom enclosures

It's often a race against time to get enclosures for new products made. They are usually left until the last minute when all the electronics and internal workings are finalised. Enclosures can range from standard off the shelf designs to 3D printed customised cases. So, what are the options?  Read More

01/07/2014

Should 'Designed in Britian' mean 'Made in Britain'?

Chancellor George Osborne has previously announced, "We want the words 'Made in Britain,' 'Created in Britain,' Designed in Britain,' 'Invented in Britain' to drive our nation forward. A Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers. That is how we will create jobs and support families." Whilst it is easy to dismiss this as political hyperbole, it does say about our manufacturing economy, and the Government's understanding of it. My question is, how do we prevent products that are 'Designed in Britain' and 'Invented in Britain' being made somewhere else?  Read More

17/06/2014

The winning position

One of the main goals of Engineering Materials is to encourage the use of material innovations and corresponding technology, to enable product advantage. Go lighter, stronger, quicker, or whatever, by using the right material, in the right way, for the right application. And this is a fluid process that is ever changing.  Read More

09/06/2014

How to improve the surface finish of your AM component

One of the drawbacks of Additive Manufacturing (AM) or 3D Printing (3DP) is the quality of the surface finish. Building parts layer by layer will naturally result in visible layering or 'stair stepping' as it is often known.  Read More

19/05/2014

Fracking: Why it is going to happen

Green ink to the ready, it's about to get controversial! ...or just leave a comment below.   Read More

02/04/2014

The cost conundrum

Self-improvement comes with a cost. Whether it's a personal or company-wide goal, investment of time and money - upfront - is a necessary expense. And while we would like to see the fruits of our labour quickly, the reality is that real change takes time, which makes justifying that initial outlay difficult.  Read More

02/04/2014

Competition Fuels the Service Transformation in Europe

The Service Council's (TSC) service market outlook research for 2014 highlighted that increasing competition was tabbed as the top challenge for organisations looking to emerge from years of financial and global economic uncertainty. This competition was initially felt in the sale of product and equipment but is now increasingly being felt in the service and support space as companies vie for profitability on the service side of the business.  Read More

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