Biomimetics and Biomimicry in Engineering

Archive for the ‘Knowledge Transfer’ Category

Intelligent Manufacture of Functionally Graded Materials

In Knowledge Transfer, Seminars and Keynotes on 2019/03/27 at 3:55 pm

Simon Backwell is working in our lab on a system that instruments and controls the manufacture of a multifunctional material with a controlled porosity. Because there is no commercially available hardware, he is looking into building a fit-for-purpose apparatus that will allow the monitoring and control of the process. He is also developing the s/ware that will allow this realisation.

He presented his work to the researchers in the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence during their ‘Orientation Day’


His work sees immediate applications in industry and the main beneficiaries are manufacturing practitioners, as well as researchers investigating materials properties when the manufacturing process is affected by external fields.

He is sponsored by EPSRC CDT-EI and co-sponsored by FAR Ltd, an innovate materials company operating in the automotive ecosystem.


Materials Research Exchange 2018

In Knowledge Transfer, Seminars and Keynotes on 2018/05/08 at 10:14 am

We spoke at the UK Advanced Material Research & Investor Showcase event in London on 13th March. The event, organised by EPSRC, Innovate UK and KTN, and supported by DSTL, was aimed at materials scientists and engineers who work at the research:industry:academia interface in the UK. It was a fabulous opportunity to learn more about the facilities the UK plcs and Universities have for materials processing and characterization, and also to find out more about the ongoing projects co-sponsored by Innovate UK.

We were invited to present our ongoing project in collaboration with FAR UK Ltd, ‘L3:An Integrated approach towards zero net emissions via lightweight manufacturing’, which is researching how to achieve weight reduction in composites (i.e. fibre-reinforced polymers) without sacrificing mechanical performance, and using a cost effective manufacturing process.


The process under development is one that has the ability to use lower cost composite materials and is inherently near-zero waste, both in its production strategy and also because it does not use environmentally damaging materials.

The process makes porous polymeric structures where the inherent loss of mechanical properties is mitigated by the addition of fibres (initially glass and carbon, expected to be replaced by naturally derived fibres in the near future).  Additionally, the microstructure of the pores and the orientation of the fibres can be controlled in-situ using external means such as sonication and magnetic fields.

This project is allowing us to move forward towards the realisation of topology optimisation and its true implementation for composite manufacturing processes.


Baking with Sound: a successful industry-focussed research project

In Knowledge Transfer on 2015/02/11 at 10:15 am

The Baking with Sound project, a research project co-funded by industry and Innovate UK, has come to the end of its current funding. We have taken the technology from a ‘batch’ setting to a set of prototypes that can produce bakery foodstuff in an industrial environment. In TRL terms, we have ratcheted up about 4 levels. We have generated and protected IP and trained 2 students and 2 research associates. We gelled a working research team that had fun, traveled the UK extensively and ate lots of our own experimental samples. (Some of them were even nice).

We have shown that the sonication technology has a positive effect on the crumb structure and texture on baked products in general, and of ‘free-from’ product range in particular (e.g. gluten-free and low-salt). The next stop for us is the integration of the sonication technology in the commercially designed bakery equipment apparatus.

The Baking with Sound consortium was formed by Macphie of Glenbervie, Nortek Piezo, MONO Bakery Equipment and Fosters Bakery (as industrial partners), and Loughborough University (as the academic lead).

Meet the midwife!

In Knowledge Transfer on 2013/07/17 at 1:23 pm

And we met a lot of them! on the 28th June we visited the NHS Lothian’s Birth Centre, at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, under the facilitation of our team leader, Dr Fiona Denison. We showed the practising midwives our designs and mock-ups and obtained user-specs from this first workshop of the ‘Waterbirthing Mirror’.

Workshop user-group at the Birth Centre

Workshop user-group at the Birth Centre

It was wonderful to see so many people with so much experience and enthusiasm willing to give us comments, ideas and feedback.
Thanks to Fiona and her team for making our stay so comfortable in their superb facilities at the Birthing Centre.

Water, mirrors, babies and Lego

In Knowledge Transfer on 2013/07/13 at 12:18 pm

These are Natacza and Mark. They are my Summer 2013 Design Team.

Natacza & Mark adventures

Natacza & Mark

Natacza and Mark are working on the ‘Mirror for waterbirths’ project, a collaboration among the Universities of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and Loughborough, along with the NHS Lothian, and sponsored by the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation.

This is them doing some lego brainstorming for mechanisms and functional features.


Concept generation well underway. The most difficult bit was explaining the guy at the airport why we were carrying those mock-ups in our hand-luggage.

Looking to access engineering expertise for your next R&D project? :: A webinar

In Knowledge Transfer, Seminars and Keynotes on 2013/03/12 at 10:21 am

Join Interface –The knowledge connection for business and Heriot-Watt University on 21st March (2pm-4pm) for this live and online event for businesses which will highlight the range of engineering expertise, new technologies and funding available within Heriot Watt University that could help your business.


Interface – The knowledge connection for business

Discover how to access the world class facilities and expertise available within Scotland’s academic network to develop and grow your business.

Laura Goodfellow, Senior Project Executive  – Got a business challenge? The answer could be in Scotland’s academia!

Heriot Watt University

Discover the various ways in which your business can access the engineering expertise and resources at Heriot Watt University.

Dr Carmen Torres-Sanchez – Industry-led engineering design projects for undergraduate students

Dr Dawn Beddard- Industry-led physics based projects

Dr David Flynn – KTPs: knowledge transfer goes both ways between university and companies

Professor Marc Desmulliez – Research projects with Industry in the UK and beyond

Dr Iain McEwan – Navigating your way in University for Research and Knowledge transfer

Company Spotlight

A company’s perspective! – Discover the success that three businesses have achieved from collaborating with Heriot Watt University on their engineering projects.

Mr Stephen Roberts of Nightingale Intensiv

Mr Roy MacDonald of Glenhanze

Dr Mark Zwinderman of Aboleo

Who should attend?
The event is aimed at any company in any sector, who is interested in discovering how Scotland’s academic network could support its next engineering challenge.

The online streaming will give you the opportunity to watch the presentations live, participate in the discussion forum and ask questions from the comfort of your own office.

Register here


Economic Impact Launch – Heriot-Watt event

In Knowledge Transfer on 2012/12/10 at 2:15 pm

We gathered at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on 4th December to celebrate Heriot-Watt’s economic impact on Scotland and the world.

Guests at the National Portrait Gallery

Guests at the National Portrait Gallery

You can see here a video that summarises a very impressive performance:

As part of the industrial collaboration and knowledge transfer activities, our Baking with Sound project was showcased by the Principal during his speech:

Showcasing the Baking with Sound project

Showcasing the Baking with Sound project

The Baking with Sound project is collaborative venture with 5 consortium members (Macphie of Glenbervie, Nortek Piezo Ltd, MONO Equipment, Fosters Bakery, and Heriot-Watt University). Its overall objective is to provide the Food Industry with an improved processing strategy to create more competitive ‘free-from’ products. It is a Technology Strategy Board funded project and it commenced in summer 2012.

The event was wonderfully organised by our 3 Communications musketeers Colin Thomson, Joe West and the incomparable Harry Loney. Great job, guys!

Company-led Engineering Design projects 2012

In Knowledge Transfer on 2012/08/22 at 6:19 pm

This year we have had 60+ enquiries and 40+ applicants for our Industry led Engineering Design projects at Heriot-Watt University. An unprecedented demand to work with us and our Mechanical Engineering students. We would like to thank organisations like Interface, _connect (the Knowledge Transfer Network), Energy Academy, South of Scotland Business Solutions and so many other individuals in companies who have already worked with us, for spreading the word.

If you would like to hear what companies who we worked with say about this scheme, watch the trailer (43s) with the perspective from the Companies

If you would like to hear about the student viewpoint on these projects, watch the trailer (43s) below

And if you have a few minutes to spare, the full length movie (4min59s) is here

For more information on the projects and how to take part next year, keep an eye on this section.

Fighting dengue with Xeroshield

In Info, Knowledge Transfer on 2012/08/20 at 11:01 am

Dengue, also known as breakbone fever (apparently, what you feel when you get it), is the most important viral disease of humans transmitted by mosquitoes, affecting up to 100 million people each year in at least 112 countries. It is an urban disease transmitted by mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) that live in water storage containers (e.g. rainfall collection deposits or abandoned swimming pools). Tackling the spread in numbers of these mosquitoes is vital to curbing the disease incidence.

A. aegypti mosquito larvae and (one) pupa

Xeroshield Ltd, based at the Roslin Biocentre in Edinburgh,  is dedicated to the development of novel insect control methods offering alternatives to chemical insecticides.  Their ongoing projects, involving collaborations with both private companies and academic institutions, include the development of an insecticidal textile for use in mosquito nets, the development of a novel tick removal device linked to a laboratory-based Borrelia detection service, and the evaluation of new potential applications for a non-neurotoxic insecticidal compounds.

We have been working with them on a novel device to control the life cycle of the mosquito dengue (from larvae to fully developed flying insects). We have created the prototype for a device which will use an innovative strategy developed by Xeroshield. This new approach to pest control uses no chemicals or biological agents, so it poses no threat to human health and safety. Xeroshield is taking the device to a new stage of product development before field tests are carried out in several tropical and subtropical countries.

This work has been funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation voucher via Interface.

Best Free Paper for our work on Prosthetic Devices

In Knowledge Transfer, Publications, Seminars and Keynotes on 2012/04/23 at 11:47 am

Our collaborators Susan Hillman and James Hollington, from the SMART Centre, NHS Scotland, have been awarded Best Free Paper for our  ‘Clinical Interpretation of ISO 16840-2, Measurements for Wheelchair Seating Cushions’ presentation at the Posture and Mobility Group (PMG) National Training Event.

Their stand also attracted a lot of interest from clinicians, manufacturers and the ISO and BSI committees.

James at the stand with clinicians

This collaborative project is focused on checking the clinical relevance of the BS ISO standard 1640-2:2007 on Wheelchair seating for the determination of physical and mechanical characteristics of devices intended to manage tissue integrity, in this case, wheelchair seat cushions. Our paper can be read here: PMG 2012.

Susan and James discussing our work with colleagues

Congratulations Susan and James!

(More info about the centre)