The replicator

WHEN great designs are turned into products compromises are made. The beautifully sculpted “concept” cars that regularly appear at motor shows never get built, at least not in the form they left the design studio, because they are inevitably too difficult and expensive to engineer for mass production. For decades this has meant products have […]

Alloy angels

ONE of the great advantages of 3D printing is being able to escape the constraints of traditional production processes, and to make things with unique shapes. The powerful computer-aided design programs that are used to run 3D printers help engineers achieve this. Algorithms calculate the most efficient structure required to achieve the lightest weight and […]

A 3D-printed smile

A SET of straight and gleaming teeth makes for a beautiful smile. But how many people who have undergone a little dental maintenance know that they may have inside their mouths some of the first products of a new industrial revolution? Tens of millions of dental crowns, bridges and orthodontic braces have now been produced […]

Getting the pulse racing

DURING the first world war it was observed that when armour plating was hit by shrapnel some of the bits not only embedded themselves into the metal but ended up welded to it, a process that normally takes a great deal of heat. Laboratory tests later showed that if one material is accelerated fast enough […]

Knit me a car

New materials for manufacturing Material difference Materials science is rapidly transforming the way that everything from cars to light bulbs is made, says Paul Markillie Leader here http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21679531-materials-science-changing-way-things-are-designed-and-made-knit-me-car Technology Quareterly report here: http://www.economist.com/technology-quarterly/2015-12-05/new-materials-for-manufacturing

3D printing HP

ONE company you might expect to make three-dimensional (3D) printers is HP, a giant in the world of two-dimensional printing. There are similarities between inkjet printers and desktop 3D printers, which deposit successive layers of molten plastic instead of liquid ink in order to build up solid objects. So HP should know something about the […]

Made in Britain, again

Britain, like many other countries, has gone through a period of huge deindustrialisation. Nearly 9m people were employed in British manufacturing in 1966; by 2011 fewer than 3m were. Manufacturing’s share of the economy is around 10% today, half what it was in 1990. In different countries, from rustbelt America to rustic China, a chorus […]