CES Selector – two decades of progress, with more to come

polymide-thumbnail“I was looking at every material possible, calling suppliers, trying to get hold of materials and price lists. With CES Selector, I could have saved months and months of work!”

That is what Dr Charlie Bream told me about several materials selection projects in his 14-year career prior to joining Granta in 2007, developing aerospace, automotive and consumer products – he had never used CES Selector until that point, now he is the Product Manager.

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Two views, one vision – designers and engineers making great products

abs-pellets-thumbnailIf two heads are better than one, imagine the benefits of two communities coming together to share each other’s views on materials and processes to make the best designed, best engineered products. That’s the premise behind a new educational project at Granta Design.

If we can inspire designers and engage engineers to learn about each other’s vital role in product development, and enable them to communicate in the common language of materials, we can arrive at a whole that is much greater than the sum of the parts. Two views, one vision. The new CES EduPack ‘Products, Materials and Processes’ Database offers university educators and their students two views of materials information, the Designer’s View and the Engineer’s View, so both can learn how to create successful products that are functional and aesthetically pleasing.

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Clearing the conceptual hurdle to collaboration

mi-data-thumbnailOriginating from a research environment at Cambridge University, it’s in Granta’s DNA to collaborate with researchers, academics and other companies, and to enable such collaboration between other organizations.

But when I spoke to Dr James Goddin, who leads Granta’s collaborative R&D team, he said partners in collaborative projects can be initially reluctant to share data: “Sharing potentially sensitive or valuable materials knowledge with partners, and even with competitors, represents, for many, a significant conceptual hurdle.” Continue reading

Engaging students in Eco Design through project-based teaching

bamboo-thumbnailMaterials educators at undergraduate level consistently raise the concern: how can we engage students in learning about materials?

Engaged students learn more and are more enjoyable to teach, and project-based teaching inspires students across engineering, design, and scientific degrees. It appeals to their sense of curiosity, integrates their knowledge and helps them to learn professional skills such as teamwork, communication, and project management.

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Continuous improvement through customer collaboration

mi-data-2-thumbnailWhen it comes to software development it is revolution that often grabs attention. An example here at Granta might be the recent new MI:Explore web app interface. But constant evolution is perhaps an even more important part of the story. Granta is constantly in collaboration with customers, industry consortia, and the education community with the aim of continuously improving solutions. After all, who knows better about their                                         specific needs than the users themselves?

To understand more about this continuous improvement process, I had a chat with Dan Williams, the GRANTA MI Product Manager, about the latest enhancements to the GRANTA MI™ system (see July’s press release). Continue reading

Unappreciated materials (6): Straw

straw-thumbnailSome materials catch headlines, are held in awe, but not all.  Some get little respect, despite having changed the world.  They have become commonplace, anonymous, ignored and (particularly if they are cheap) cast aside when no longer wanted.  If they had feelings, they would be hurt. This brief series of blogs is to draw attention to their plight.

Rumpelstiltskin could spin straw into gold.  Materials Scientists can’t do that yet.  But they can do other things with straw.  The value-added may be lower but the business-case has a firmer scientific base.  But first: what is straw?

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Unappreciated materials (5): Vinyl

vinyl-thumbnailSome materials catch headlines, are held in awe, but not all.  Some get little respect, despite having changed the world.  They have become commonplace, anonymous, ignored and (particularly if they are cheap) cast aside when no longer wanted.  If they had feelings, they would be hurt. This brief series of blogs is to draw attention to their plight.

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Materials experts stay ahead of the game: making the right material choices for consumer products

density-thumbnailConsumer product development is distinguished from other manufacturing sectors by high turnaround, with many products having a typical lifespan of no more than two to five years. Whether household appliances, electronic devices, or even cars, the market has a constant appetite for new products and its attention is fickle. Tastes evolve—a product that was the epitome of good design five years ago may now look dated. Even the most cutting-edge devices may only secure demand for so long before market share is lost to competitors or newer technology. Manufacturers have a limited horizon in which to capitalize on the success of their new products and generate profit, and they need to get it right. But how?

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