Biomimetics and Biomimicry in Engineering

Posts Tagged ‘Industry’

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.



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


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.


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

3D Acoustic-Structure Interaction of Ultrasound in Fluids for the Manufacture of Graded Materials

In Publications, Seminars and Keynotes on 2017/10/20 at 2:55 pm

Functionally graded materials engineered to meet specific requirements are being increasingly sought after for advanced engineering projects, yet the possibilities for their manufacture lag behind their design. The ability to control the porosity of a cellular material is one such method for adding functional gradients within materials. A novel
technique using ultrasound to control the porosity in reacting polymers shows potential to effectively mass-manufacture porosity tailored polymeric foams. In this work the pressure field in a metastable polymer produced by multiple ultrasonic sources is
modeled at distinct stages of the polymerisation reaction.


Joe Holt presenting our work on multiphysics modelling

This work has been presented at the COMSOL Conference 2017, 18th – 20th October 2017, Rotterdam (Netherlands) by Joe Holt, a researcher in the Multifunctional Materials Manufacturing Lab, PhD student of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence and co-sponsored by FAR Composites UK Ltd.

We are recruiting a new member of the team

In Jobs & Vacancies on 2017/05/02 at 10:09 am

We are recruiting a Research Associate in Advanced Composites Manufacturing for the Automotive Industry.

The manufacture of lightweight composites for the Automotive Industry requires of transformative engineering and science with the academic rigour to address the challenges presented. The creation of cost-effective automotive structural components will be carried out with Sonication technologies as a new manufacturing process for multifunctional lightweight materials that exhibit bespoke mechanical properties. We are looking for an enthusiastic researcher with a background in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering and preferably with practical experience in Control and Instrumentation. We are passionate about developing our researchers so the post holder will benefit from a range of development opportunities.

The post will be based at the Multifunctional Materials Manufacturing Lab at the Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University

For more details and to apply: and the university website

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.


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

Predicting energy demands in Portsmouth

In Info on 2015/09/09 at 5:55 pm

Brian Nwike, my placement student, has been working at Atkins on a prediction tool capable of analysing various energy drivers to create a forecast detailing the shifts and changes in energy use over a 20 year project timeframe. There are two very different locations, Portsmouth and Kano and Kaduna in Northern Nigeria, where the local governments are making use of this resource to forecast future gas and electricity demand and take educated expansion decisions.

“The inclusion of user adjustment to create unique demand scenarios demonstrates the model’s commitment to exploring the unpredictable change of the future”, Brian says

Along with his work on energy studies, Brian took part in the Good Jobs Campaign, launched by Boris Johnson and CitizensUK which Atkins supports. The campaign identifies future skills gap and the effect this will have on the UK economy if this gap remains. Brian attended to events to rub shoulders with Boris Johnson and Atkins Chairman, Allan Cook.

Brian is back to Uni in Loughborough this October to embark on his 3rd year of MEng in Mechanical Engineering.

The increasing demand for STEM graduates: a shortage or a recruitment failure?

In Info on 2015/09/01 at 10:18 am

My student Andrew Craik has spent the past year investigating the perceived shortage of STEM talent by industry and why STEM graduates are so inclined to work in occupations that are not related to their degree.

“Although evidence suggests that there is a high demand for qualified STEM graduates in core STEM areas, why do so many still stray to different sectors?”

Andrew concludes that there is no shortage of STEM talent entering the pipeline at university, it is how they are treated throughout their university life what influences their career choices and, sometimes, a large number of drop-outs to other industries. Low numbers of females studying STEM (Engineering in particular) subjects exacerbate the problem of not enough graduates available for Industry (45% of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) members declare there is a serious problem with the supply of STEM graduates (Phillips, 2013)).

The main three reasons are:

  • A realistic and perceived salary shortage in a traditional STEM career which creates an interest shortage from candidates
  • A self-inflicted shortage imposed by recruiters, in particular STEM Industries who produce far less attractive graduate offers than non-STEM recruiters (eg Financial services)
  • The fallacy of the 2:1. Staff screening applications are not often qualified to appropriately judge the level of technical expertise of the candidates and refer to artificial thresholds such as the 2:1 or degree awarding university. In most cases these are irrelevant to the reality of the role.

Andrew recommends:

“The shortage comes from these barriers imposed on the graduate market and unless there is a dramatic change in the influx of students studying STEM subjects at A-Level and subsequently University, employers must deal with the problem directly. Whether this means putting more resources into their recruitment, increasing graduate salaries, moulding more interesting graduate jobs, creating more engaging graduate schemes or considering students with a 2.2 in a reputable course from top universities then actions need to be taken sooner rather than later.”