Biomimetics and Biomimicry in Engineering

Manufacturing Functionality: from SFF to truly SFF

In Seminars and Keynotes on 2016/04/05 at 8:13 pm

Solid Free Form (SFF) fabrication, also known as Rapid prototyping (RP) or Layered Manufacturing (LM), creates arbitrary 3D shapes directly from Computer-Aided Design (CAD) data. It has been around for two decades now. From its early age it demonstrated tremendous advantages for the Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) industry compared to traditional manufacturing methods such as CNC machining or casting. The venues for exploration appeared endless until users started to hit a ceiling; the name ‘rapid’ became almost ironic because the layering process is a very slow one, the palette of materials to handle is limited and the advertised label ‘net-shape’ is ‘near-shape’ – on a lucky day-. We are now over the hype of SFF, RP and LM but still have needs to create heterogeneous structures that have intrinsic multifunctionality. The Multifunctional Materials Manufacturing Lab in Loughborough University works on new manufacturing methods that allows a truly free form fabrication and the engineering of composition and structure for the creation of materials that are smart, responsive to their environment and possess synergistic properties that enhance their behaviour. These types of high performance materials offer great promise in fields such as bioengineering and transport (i.e. automotive and aerospace).

Venue: Department of Physics, Universitá degli Studi di Milano, Aula Consiglio. Italy



In Funding on 2016/02/24 at 2:58 am

Lightweight materials are the next pit-stop in the challenge of reducing mass, curbing emissions and improving fuel economy in the low carbon vehicles of tomorrow.

UK’s ambitious commitment to decarbonisation of the transport industry by 2050 is going to require a creative approach. Current reductions have been gained by improvements in engine performance but these gains are diminishing. If we were to go 100% electric, we still need to produce the electricity, so the footprint is not necessarily diminished as much as it could appear. To meet the carbon emissions target we need to reduce vehicle mass. For example, a car the size of a Ford Focus would need to reduce mass by about 300kg (from ~1200kg to ~900kg).  The car industry needs to find a way to manufacture lightweights without adding production cost in the shorter term.

Loughborough University and Far UK Ltd, a Nottingham-based innovative low-volume tailored vehicle designer and manufacturer, have joined forces to explore the concept of novel and engineered structures, multifunctional materials bespoke for their mechanical properties, and manufactured in a cost-benefit and continuous fashion using Sonication technology that allows on-demand tailoring of porosity. This exciting research program has just secured co-funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

This programme of research presents a new avenue for high value manufacturing and helps support the UK knowledge base, economy and jobs.


We have been in the press here and here

Is DIY a western thing?

In Info on 2015/09/11 at 6:18 pm

Changxi Huang has been working on the bamboo hut project as part of his MSc project. His work has focused on the optimisation of the procedure for assembling the hut and looking for ways of best presenting the assembly instructions to those who can’t read instructions or have no previous knowledge on building huts.

He ran experiments with participants from different walks of life and, most importantly, from western and far east countries. One of the main points of discussion of his dissertation is based on his observations on the approach that western nationals have towards do-it-yourself products versus that of Far East countries citizens. In countries like China, assembling a product (a table or a chest of drawers) is left to those who perform that job for a living. On the contrary, the B&Q-isation or the IKEA-ising of western countries has made our exposure to self-assembly furniture and products an activity of our everyday life. Could this have an effect on our cognitive ability to understand instructions and our dexterity to carry out such assemblies?

Huang observing one of the tests in our study

Huang observing one of the tests in our study

Huang has successfully finished his MSc course and is going back to China for a most deserved rest. Well done, Huang!

MSc exhibition on 9th Sept (Loughborough University) and Farewell (or a ‘see you soon’):



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