Tuesday, March 26, 2013

News: A new dawn for metals


A recent event on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham brought together visionary engineers who are leading a new industrial revolution to showcase some of the emerging manufacturing techniques for metallic structures.

Organised by The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the seminar called, "A new dawn for metals" highlighted the application of innovative techniques in designing and manufacturing that are revolutionising many industry sectors including aerospace, automotive and power.

Representatives from academia and industry included Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, research director at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing discussing high performance manufacturing and Stephen Cater, senior project leader at TWI giving an update on friction stir welding.

Other topics included additive layer manufacturing, pressurised vapour deposition and plasma-based and nano coatings.

Dr Jacob M Hundley of HRL Laboratories in California, introduced microlattice materials and the world's lightest metallic structure that could revolutionise the way aeroplanes, cars and even buildings are constructed.

HRL Labs is jointly owned by Boeing and General Motors and has developed a way of creating an ultra lightweight piece of metal using a complex criss-cross polymer template that can be etched away leaving a metallic structure that is 250 times lighter than Styrofoam.

In creating the next-generation of lightweight materials, the experts incorporated design into the material itself, replicating architectural features, such as the lattice of the Eiffel Tower, on a nano-scale.

Dr Hundley explained: "The design philosophy is to mimic what is done on the architectural scale using existing, commercially available materials. This is the important thing for the automotive and aerospace industries: there is no need to use exotic materials; for these sectors, you just want to take existing materials that the sectors are familiar with, but engineer and architect them so that they have new, innovative properties.

"In effect, it's about architecting a material to make it the most efficient: putting material only where you need it."

Images: HRL Laboratories


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