Biomimetics and Biomimicry in Engineering

Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

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.

20180313_MRE_presentation

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.

image003

Advertisements

A manufacturing protocol for the production of biocompatible porous catalysts

In Publications, Seminars and Keynotes on 2018/02/09 at 2:23 pm

Mohammad Alqahtani, researcher of the Multifunctional Materials Lab, is conducting research to develop a new manufacturing method and testing protocol for the fabrication of biocompatible catalyst-carrier for controlled drug delivery. The carrier could be used as a prodrug activation agent when implanted in cancerous tissues in the human body. When orally-ingested drugs are deployed into the area under treatment through the blood stream, the catalyst could activate the prodrugs and these affect the area by releasing anticancer treatment. In this research, a titanium-based carrier was used to manufacture the medical device due to their biocompatibility and non cytotoxicity.

In a feasibility study, the samples were made as porous carriers.  Porous materials have larger surface area than solid materials. Therefore, when the contact area between the drug and the carrier increases this has a potency effect on the effectiveness of the drug.

His work has been presented recently

20170608_ma_poster-wolfsonconf1.jpg

This work is a continuation of the research work already presented here and published here and here.

EPSRC CDT in Embedded Intelligence – who we are

In Funding, Info on 2018/01/24 at 2:09 pm

Loughborough University hosts the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Embedded Intelligence since April 2013. This centre is training the engineers and scientists of the future in Embedded Intelligence technologies at post-graduate level before they join industry as high calibre employees.

We are proud to count on more than 50 industrial partners to be part of our Centre, co-sponsoring studentships or providing with industrial and research experience to our PhD candidates. Some of them are large companies such as Ford, Renishaw, GE, MOOG, JLR, Rolls-Royce, Taylor Hobson, AVL, Apical (part of ARM), etc. Some others are SMEs who believe that research in this topic can make the difference to their business. To name a few of our collaborators and supporters: FAR UK, Printed Electronics Ltd, Izon Science Ltd, Effect Tech ltd, Motion Robotics ltd, etc. Other organisations that support training and industry impact are also part of the Centre, e.g. MTC, NPLMTG research, HSSMI, Moredun, and TWI. The Centre keeps sight of employability and realistic prospects for our students once they graduate, so the ILM is also working with us. Our Centre is about applied science, technology and engineering. It is well known that we might be missing half of the population (i.e. females, who are ~5% of the eng-tech workforce in the country) to fill the technical and engineering posts in the next 5-15 years. The Centre’s Consortium is assisted by WISE (via the Scottish Resource Centre for Women in SET) so we can effectively encourage more women into engineering, trying to achieve gender balance that brings competitive benefits to UK’s plcs.

This is our story so far: full version can be read here

CDT_poster

We are looking for bright students who would like to study and research the integration of ‘intelligence’ into products, machines, buildings, factories, work environments, transport systems, and supply chains.

If you are interested, find more info here.

Functionally-Tailored Cellular Structures

In Publications, Seminars and Keynotes on 2018/01/10 at 1:41 pm

Many applications in science and engineering can benefit from the control of porosity
gradients. Producing heterogeneous materials allows the properties of that material to
be tailored more specifically to the requirements, reducing resource consumption and
weight. A designed microstructure is able to produce similar strength and stiffness values to a homogenous material at a reduced weight by removing discontinuities between phases where stress concentrations occur.

Joe Holt, researcher of the Multifunctional materials Lab, studying at the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence and co-sponsored by FAR UK Ltd, has presented our work on functionally tailored cellular structures via topology optimisation.

20170701_joe_poster.png

A tailored cellular structure is realised by topology optimisation of a volume loaded
in compression. The optimisation is set-up to incorporate a full spectrum of densities
of the parent material, as to simulate a cellular solid of varying density. The resulting
structure is produced by ultrasound sonication of a polyurethane foam system during
the foam rise. Targeted sonication power and frequency allows the manipulation of
density in specific regions, producing a finished structure with a density profile representing the results of the topology optimisation.

Removing mass with maths

In Comment on 2017/11/14 at 3:02 pm

We are creating lightweight materials by removing mass from where it is not needed and adding it to places subjected to high loads and strains. It is Drawing with Maths

“[The Universe] is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it” —Galileo Galilei, The Controversy on the Comets, 1618

Engineered foams for wheelchair seating

In Publications on 2017/11/08 at 10:39 am

We have published the results arising from our studies on open cell polymeric foams that can be tailored so that they support those who are bed bound or wheelchair users providing them with general well being and alleviating pressure points.

Avoiding pressure points, managing sores and permitting air permeability are the three main design specifications that clinicians aim to when choosing a cushion. In addition to that, a functional cushion, such as those who support lateral movements (e.g. leaning sideways to grab a glass of water and be helped to return to your initial position without compromising one’s stability) and protect from vibration and impacts (e.g. dropping off a curb), are the focus of our research project.

The Multifunctional Materials Lab and clinicians from the NHS have studied how we can help their clinician colleagues understand cushion performance and therefore aid them with the prescription of these to patients and users.

The results from our study have been published in the Medical Engineering and Physics Journal and in the Assistive Technology Journal .

The International Standard that regulates developments in this topic is the ISO16840-2:2007, which is currently under revision. We are hoping our work to inform their work and assist in their revisions for the replacement ISO 16840-2.

iso_replacement

 

The effect of pore size and porosity on mechanical properties and biological response of porous titanium scaffolds

In Publications on 2017/10/27 at 8:49 am

The Multifunctional Materials Lab has recently published our results on porosity tailored titanium scaffolds. The results were very interesting and demonstrated there is more to what the eye can see in a first pass: cells are extremely sensitive to cavities and ‘think’ about whether they should bridge a gap or simply fill the hole.

Our article can be found here

The effect of pore size and porosity on elastic modulus, strength, cell attachment and cell proliferation was studied for Ti porous scaffolds manufactured via powder metallurgy and sintering. Porous scaffolds were prepared in two ranges of porosities so that their mechanical properties could mimic those of cortical and trabecular bone respectively. Space-holder engineered pore size distributions were carefully determined to study the impact that small changes in pore size may have on mechanical and biological behaviour. The Young’s moduli and compressive strengths were correlated with the relative porosity. Linear, power and exponential regressions were studied to confirm the predictability in the characterisation of the manufactured scaffolds and therefore establish them as a design tool for customisation of devices to suit patients’ needs. The correlations were stronger for the linear and the power law regressions and poor for the exponential regressions. The optimal pore microarchitecture (i.e. pore size and porosity) for scaffolds to be used in bone grafting for cortical bone was set to < 212 μm with volumetric porosity values of 27–37%, and for trabecular tissues to 300–500 μm with volumetric porosity values of 54–58%. The pore size range 212–300 μm with volumetric porosity values of 38–56% was reported as the least favourable to cell proliferation in the longitudinal study of 12 days of incubation.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msec.2017.03.249

Cells are sensitive to small changes in pore size and some are even detrimental to their proliferation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msec.2017.03.249

Published in Materials Science and Engineering: C, Volume 77, 1 August 2017, Pages 219-228, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msec.2017.03.249

Mathematical modelling of sonicated bubbles

In Publications on 2017/05/31 at 5:10 pm

One possible manufacturing method for bone scaffolds used in regenerative medicine involves the acoustic irradiation of a reacting polymer foam to generate a graded porosity. Sonication of foams have been our focus of research for many years now as this technology allows the porosity tailoring of cellular materials.

20060117_1500_B2_red

Sonicated foam (energy received from the left) with a marked gradation in porosity

We have joined forces with Prof Mulholland’s team (Dr Barlow and Dr Bradley) at Strathclyde University and worked on a mathematical model of a non-reacting process in order to develop theoretical confirmation of the influence of the acoustic signal on the polymer foam.

The model describes single bubble growth in a free rising, nonreacting polymer foam irradiated by an acoustic standing wave and incorporates the effects of inertia. Investigations are carried out to explore the influence of inertia on the bubble volume, fluid pressure and the stress tensors of the foam, and to explore the effect of fluid viscosity and acoustic pressure amplitude on the final bubble volume, and the curing time. A key result is that increasing the applied acoustic pressure is shown to result in a reduced steady state bubble volume, indicating that ultrasonic irradiation has the potential to produce tailored porosity profiles in cellular materials such as bioengineering scaffolds and light-weight structures.

Our work has been compiled as a paper recently published in the Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics and can be found here (Open Access).

An integrated approach towards zero net emissions via lightweight manufacturing

In Funding on 2017/03/14 at 4:05 pm

We have managed to secure funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Innovate UK and Far UK Ltd to develop research that makes an impact on emissions savings from road vehicles.

My Multifunctional Materials Manufacturing Lab at Wolfson School and my industrial collaborator (Far UK ltd) have been awarded more than £250k to develop excellent science that allows the design and manufacture of low weight structures for vehicle chassis components. Low weight is beneficial for reduced tailpipe emissions for both existing internal combustion engine vehicles but also as an enabler for further electrification of the fleet. The manufacture of the optimised structures via the sonication process incurs another challenge: to achieve mass market weight reduction this needs to be done cost effectively.

This project is part of the Integrated Delivery Programme 13: Low Emission Vehicle Systems (IDP13): Stream 1 – Collaborative technical feasibility studies.

Applying International Standards to manage comfort

In Publications on 2017/03/01 at 6:46 pm

Have you ever seen the seat testing device at IKEA? We have used a very similar one in our study.

ikea_durability_test

IKEA durability test

Open cell polymeric foams can be tailored so that the support provided and the level of stability is customised to people’s needs. For those who are bed bound or wheelchair users the selection of a cushion can improve their health and general well being. Avoiding pressure points, managing sores and permitting air permeability are the three main design specifications that patients and clinicians aim to when choosing a cushion. In addition to that, a functional cushion, such as those who support lateral movements (e.g. leaning sideways to grab a glass of water and be helped to return to your initial position without compromising one’s stability) and protect from vibration and impacts (e.g. dropping off a curb), are the focus of our last research project.

My team and I have had the privilege to work with the biomechanics and physiotherapists at the SMART Centre at Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh to study how we can help their clinician colleagues understand cushion performance and therefore aid them with the prescription of these to patients and users.

The results from our study have been presented at the PMG 2012 Conference and recently published by the Assistive Technology journal (free e-prints can be collected here). This has allowed us to interact with the community that is preparing the new version of the ISO16840-2:2007 which will regulate developments in this area.