Engineering Materials Blogs

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

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Keeping up with technology

If you're still trying to get your head around 3D printing, and how to use it, then you're already behind the curve. That's because 3D printing has become old news to some with the focus now firmly on 4D printing.  Read More


Managing Complexity in Software-Intensive Products: Risks and Rewards

Software-intensive products are growing so rapidly that many manufacturers now employ more software engineers in product development than in their IT departments. Many have more software engineers than mechanical engineers.   Read More


Realistic expectations

There is quite a lot of debate at the moment around fracking that is leading to wider discussions about the UK's energy mix. The problem is largely one of ignorance and desire of the impossible. Politicians have been unable to get the message across that compromises have to be made and that cheap, clean, ubiquitous energy is not yet a possibility for the UK.  Read More


Printing guns - should we be worried?

Earlier this year there was furore when it was reported that a 3D printed gun made out of plastic, which really didn't work well, was produced. And then last month it was announced that the 'World's first' 3D printed metal gun had been produced. If you have watched the video of the month you will have seen that it actually works pretty well, showing no sign of damage after firing more than 600 rounds. Perhaps it was obvious that someone was going to take on this challenge sooner or later, but should we be worried?  Read More


Don’t count out the traditional

While you may often read about the developments of nano materials, graphene, the benefits of carbon fibre or how in the future everything will be made from a high strength plastic, for the most part UK manufacturers rely on making parts from metal, using traditional processes.  Read More


Why cut knurling patterns is the dinosaur of die casting

Die casting might not be regarded as a dynamic type of engineering by many, but changes are afoot in the industry when it comes to knurling patterns.  Read More


Product Innovation… More than a Bright Idea

Early this morning I endured my second session of shockwave therapy for a painful case of plantar fasciitis. While biting my knuckles and holding back tears, the following thoughts crept into my head: Why did I ever decide to train for a half marathon? Who figured out shockwaves could help cure foot afflictions? Were they sadists?  Read More


Biodegradable plastic: good, bad or ugly?

If you have ever been on a diet you'll know how confusing it can be. You think something is healthy, only to find out later that the benefits aren't quite as hoped. Humus, nuts and smoothies – for example – can be laden with calories. The same goes for many sports drinks. So while you think you are doing the right thing, you can be investing in a false economy.  Read More


Some ideas take time...

It seems the demand for innovation is greater than ever, yet it is getting harder to come by. As the world gets more complex, so too are the products and solutions expected from engineers. A survey by IBM of 1500 CEO's from around the world ranked creativity as the single most important competency in business today.  Read More


Stay off the bandwagon

As many are embarking on summer holidays and we pause for breath before the run down to Christmas, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on the year so far. The last few years have seen a wave of change in the engineering community and the year so far seems no different, in that rarely are things staying the same.  Read More


Management must back engineers

'Continuous improvement' is one of many buzz phrases being bandied about at the moment. However the reality is actual change in a product, material or design is usually quite conservative to ensure the affects of change are positive... or indeed minimise them if they're negative.   Read More


Onwards and upwards...

It was a year ago that we were getting ready to launch the very first issue of Engineering Materials to the market. Though slightly nervous, we were sure that the concept for the magazine was a great one.  Read More


The Proud Factor

A recent press visit to British Airways Engineering near Heathrow airport highlighted two things. First and foremost, we are in good hands. Despite the surprising battering the aircraft receive they are – of course - immensely safe and extremely well looked after.  Read More


Can you have too much innovation?

A recent study by the Cass Business School, part of City University London, concluded that excessive innovation can actually be detrimental. It used the Formula One motor racing series as a basis for comparison. F1 is unique in many of the ways it operates and while it is probably not the best case study for a generalisation, it is an interesting and thought provoking conclusion nonetheless.  Read More


Brollies up! Kickstarter’s raining on the product development parade

Whilst the concept of crowdfunding is still new to a lot of people, and many product developers are only just coming round to the exciting possibility that ideas can be taken straight to the masses, Kickstarter, the world's biggest crowdfunding platform, has already rained on the parade and dampened the hopes of hardware startups.  Read More


The volume curve

If you are looking for production plastic parts, then injection moulding is a very cost effective solution for quantities down to and even below 100.   Read More


The circular economy

Never mind China, why are you hoarding scarce raw materials? Why am I? I'm not talking about the lean industrial machines that you all, hopefully, operate within; I'm talking about the consumer which is, of course, all of us.  Read More


The importance of selling

I've just spent the last two hours trawling YouTube to find a video for this month's newsletter. I searched a lot, and indeed watched some very cool materials and technologies being tried and tested, discussed and debated. The problem was they were nearly all American.  Read More


Injection moulding vs Vacuum casting

Injection moulding is often dismissed as being too expensive, requiring long lead times and being unflexible, but that's not always the case. We take a look at some of the advantages the technology offers with a real case that proves that is not always the case.  Read More


Questions for my readers...

Join my community, join my network, endorse me, follow me, like me, tweet me, comment on my picture! While it can all sound a little bit self-indulgent and attention seeking, social media seems to be the future. It is a forum for those that are extremely proactive and have interesting things to share, and those with far too much time on their hands.  Read More


Can it be done better?

Engineering and manufacturing in the UK has been on a proactive mission since the recession started. It has had more limelight and opportunity than it's had for decades to voice publically just what it does, and what it can do. Industry has shown great confidence and a spirit that many thought had been all but lost. And driving this has been the engineers that continue to add value and innovate.  Read More


Design for direct metal laser sintering: anything goes?

Additive Manufacturing (AM), 3D printing, rapid prototyping; call it what you like but AM processes offer tremendous opportunities to designers, engineers and artists.  Read More


The future is in your hands

The future is in your hands. This is perhaps more true of engineers than any other profession. Your choices dictate how something is made, how it should be used and ultimately how it should be disposed of. Affecting all of this, however – indeed, perhaps the most vital consideration – is material selection.  Read More


Welcoming a new arrival

When you received this month's issue, you will have noticed an additional publication. That is because this month, Eureka and Eureka Specifier are joined by our newest stablemate, Engineering Materials.  Read More


Andy Green’s Bloodhound Project diary

The thing about setting a land speed record is that speeding up is only half of the problem. Once you've gone flashing through the timing lights of the measured mile at over 1000mph you are faced with stopping a heavy, very high speed vehicle in a limited distance (about 5½ miles on our chosen track on Hakskeen Pan in South Africa). 5½ miles sounds like a long way, but if you're doing a mile every 3½ seconds, it doesn't seem that far at all!  Read More

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