Engineering in the Material World

Our very own Stephen Warde has been interviewed for the blog of one of the major providers of CAD/PLM software. Speaking to PTC, Steve highlights the difficulties faced by design engineers and the impact materials have on the ultimate cost and performance of a product.

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Are you innovating with intent?

“Are you innovating with intent?” seems like a simple question but if your company doesn’t have a good materials information strategy in place, the answer will most likely be “No”. In our latest blog post, you’ll discover how companies like Ethicon Endo-Surgery are innovating and raising their materials IQ.

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Meet the team at Granta Design

Welcome to the third in our series in which we meet the Granta team. We spoke with our colleague Rhys to find out everything, from what he most enjoys about being a Software Tester to which historical figure provides him with a daily dose of inspiration. We’re always looking for like-minded individuals who have passion and drive to make positive changes to our software development; take a look at our current opportunities if you think this could be you.

“My typical day encompasses a wide range of manual and automated testing. One minute I might be verifying the functionality of a new interactive feature, while the next I’ll find myself working on code to deploy and configure our products on virtual machines via TeamCity. Working closely with the developers within an Agile environment, I know my input is always valued during our sprint planning meetings, and my regular involvement in maintaining JIRA issues helps to create an audit trail of how we are constantly improving our software.

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Engineering, Aesthetics, and Materials – making vital connections

Successful products require Engineers and Designers to collaborate, often around materials choices: balancing performance with aesthetics for the ideal product experience. Engineering curricula don’t always recognise the importance of this connection. Engineers and Designers get only a limited understanding of each other’s work, while Materials is often an under-appreciated subject. Cambridge Engineering Professor, Mike Ashby, published the book “Materials and Design” in 2009 and has worked on several learning tools to inspire Design and Engineering students about each other’s subjects, and about materials. But it has proved hard to marry the quantitative engineering perspective with descriptions of aesthetics that are often variable and culturally-dependent.

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What tools do students need to understand sustainable development and its importance for the future of engineering?

At Granta, we recently ran a survey to explore the challenges of teaching sustainable development. Key findings, from 200 plus responses, indicated that academics would welcome more case studies with real data, and a global perspective on interlinked environmental and social impacts. The feedback was consistent with my own experience, as a PhD at the Centre for Sustainable Development where I did research in social and environmental impact assessment tools. I was also closely involved in teaching, and subsequently co-developed a start-up company focusing on software and learning. From these experiences, it was clear that software can have a large impact on teaching and outreach. I’m now working as Development Manager and Sustainability Consultant in the Education Team at Granta, collaborating with the academic community and Professor Mike Ashby to develop teaching resources that support the sustainable development subject-area.

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The secret of success in Additive Manufacturing testing and simulation

The rapid development of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology displays signs of immense promise for making topologically-optimized parts with optimal cost and performance. But with great power comes great challenges! Engineers require an understanding of the complex interactions and relationship between part design, materials, production processes and part performance. Designing the ‘ideal’ geometry can also prove to be a significant challenge.  One secret is that succeeding in the real world of AM production requires you to do the right things in the virtual world—in how you simulate AM processes and handle AM data.

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Goodbye to ‘students versus teachers’?

The final talk at the 2nd Asian Materials Education Symposium, delivered by Mr Gilbert Teo of Singapore Polytechnic, centred on the benefits of peer-based learning and, more specifically, re-designing a course to encourage students to learn from each other. This method of learning moves away from the conventional student vs teacher stereotype and explores the role of a facilitator and how we can incorporate technology. Not only was this a reflective way to end the highly successful Symposium, but it sparked a great deal of discussion. With students acting more like consumers and wanting the best learning experiences from their education, engaging them is more important than ever.

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Are you in a ‘materials authority’ role and supporting simulation?

Simulation engineers are often desperate for sophisticated material properties to support their temperature dependent and/or non-linear material models, enabling more accurate simulation and validation of product performance.

If you are in the ‘material authority’ role in your company, either as a materials specialist or a member of the simulation team who has acquired this responsibility, you will need to respond! I’ve worked with many people in this role who are dedicating a lot of time to queries from design and simulation engineers about how materials will perform under various conditions, or which is the best material to use in certain operating conditions and environments.

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Speeding up the discovery of new alloys

Granta recently wrapped-up its participation in Accelerated Metallurgy, a European Union (EU) collaborative project focused on speeding up discovery of new alloys. What lessons did we learn?

Alloys have been vital throughout human civilization – think of the importance of brass and bronze in ancient times. Today, production and use of alloys accounts for an amazing 46% of all European Union manufacturing value and 11% of the EU’s total GDP, contributing over €1.5 trillion annually to the EU economy. It’s a long way from the Bronze Age to modern super alloys, yet we are still a very long way from exploring all of the possible combinations of today’s 61 commercially-available metals. The reason is that current approaches to manufacturing and testing potential alloys are time-consuming, labour intensive, and expensive – making comprehensive studies unsustainable.

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Meet the team at Granta Design

The second in a series in which we meet the Granta team. We spoke with our colleague Pippa, to find out what she enjoys about being an Education Account Manager, and which scientist and material inspires her most. We’re always looking for like-minded individuals who have passion and drive to make positive change to our educational practices, take a look at our current opportunities if you think this could be you.

“As a member of the Education division I work with universities and colleges across the globe including the UK, Netherlands, Singapore, and Australia. I support them in the use of both CES EduPack and CES Selector, for teaching and research respectively, from initial engagement to see if the software will help their current teaching right through to advising them on the deployment and use of the software.

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