Live and kicking

Once again, Engineering Materials Live has offered a superb venue for materials suppliers and end users to meet and exchange ideas.

Following a highly successful event at the National Motorcycle Museum in May, Engineering Materials Live returned to the Imperial War Museum, Duxford in Cambridgeshire in September.

As always, Engineering Materials Live provided a venue where design engineers, manufacturers and production professionals could have face-to-face discussions and do business with plastic mouldings, composites, prototyped parts and advanced materials suppliers.

Engineering Materials Live is a specialist OEM engineering event delivering a focused showcase of engineering materials and related products and services. Visitors to Engineering Materials Live are typically design engineers drawn from the readers of leading journals, Eureka! and Engineering Materials. The event uses a refreshingly simple and well-proven road show style template that restores some traditional value for exhibitors.

Exhibiting companies included: plastics, rubbers, metals, composites, ceramics, alloys, lightweighting solutions, injection moulding, rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing, metal fabricators, design software (simulation, FEA, CFD), materials testing, design consultancy, minerals and natural fibres, sustainable materials, glass, carbon fibre, expanded materials, foams, coatings & finishing, conductive materials, surface treatment.

As ever, a key component of the event was the seminar programme. This time around, the first presentation came from Dr Heiko Wildner, chief operating officer of MatMatch, and concerned the inspiration for future material selection and sourcing and the way in in which digitisation has the potential to change the way people discover and use materials. Research from the Matmatch founding team showed that people currently tend to either stick to materials they already know or trawl Google for answers. So what role can digitisation play in changing this behaviour? How can we encourage people to broaden their horizons and consider alternative materials? In this talk, Dr Wildner presented a vision for the future of evaluating and sourcing of materials.

Next came Nigel Barrow, technical customer service manager, EMS-Grivory to discuss Grivory HT, which offers enhanced performance at high temperatures

Grivory is the trade name for a group of technical thermoplastics manufactured and distributed by EMS-Grivory. The materials in this group are based on semi-crystalline polyamides with some partially aromatic content.

Grivory HT is a semi-crystalline thermoplastic construction material based on polyphthalamide (PPA) and is characterised by its high-performance properties. Technical injection-moulded parts made from Grivory HT retain their shape even at high operating temperatures. Thanks to its properties, Grivory HT is undoubtedly a high-performance plastic. In terms of characteristics such as stiffness and strength, among the most important in metal replacement, Grivory HT outperforms materials such as PPS or PEEK at operating temperatures up to 120°C.

This presentation offered a chance to learn about the ‘New Generation’ of Grivory HT – High Heat & Hydrolysis resistance developed for the most demanding applications for Automotive and I&C.

The vexed issue of plastics and sustainability was addressed by Dan Jarvis, technical and business development manager of Plastribution.

With increasing levels of environmental awareness, driven in the main by the ubiquitous use of plastics, there is growing pressure on the plastics industry to respond positively on the long term importance of sustainable polymers development.

In providing solutions for the future, evaluating the environmental credentials of a ‘sustainable’ material or product is often complicated and sometimes difficult to judge.

This presentation sought to bring clarity to the issues and terminology used and whilst will not provide answers, it will provide relevant information to allow those attending to make informed and balanced decisions in the area of sustainability.

James Short, application engineer for Stratasys, discussed lightweighting and metal replacement through the 3D printing of carbon fibre and engineering thermoplastics.

Delegates were given the opportunity to discover the benefits additive manufacturing is bringing to activities such as lightweighting, high performance part development and metal replacement projects.

The presentation offered a deep dive into a range of applications including printing real carbon fibre composite parts, 3D printing composite layup tooling, developing manufacturing aids, and producing end use production parts.

Various case studies were being shared to demonstrate the huge savings in both time and money and the numerous industries taking advantage from aerospace to automotive to healthcare and consumer products. Stratasys additive manufacturing technologies are successfully finding applications across organisations well beyond designers and prototyping.

Finally, in a presentation entitled ‘The modern day blacksmith’, Dr Gareth Conduit, chief technical officer of Intellegens, discussed the current state of AI, limitations of current methods and how we have solved this problem before demonstrating how the technique was used to develop a new nickel-base alloy for direct laser deposition, designed to satisfy targets of process-ability, cost, density, phase stability, creep resistance, oxidation, and resistance to thermal stresses.

Intellegens has developed a revolutionary suite of software tools enabling materials engineers to harness the power of deep learning to guide the design of new advanced materials, resulting in reduced costs, reduced development cycles and improved materials.

The next Engineering Materials Live exhibition will take place on Thursday 9 May 2019 at The Silverstone Wing, Silverstone Circuit, Northamptonshire.

Paul Fanning

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