AM – a manufacturing revolution

3D Metal Printer_#1_  3D Metal Printer_#2_

AM (Additive Manufacturing) costs are reducing and combined with it’s flexibility to manufacture quickly bespoke designs from CAD models, is slowly taking sector ground from more traditional manufacturing methods. The range of materials that can be used has increased (including various plastics & polymers and now metals) is giving rise to a range of products with custom mechanical properties and related costs. Another advantage of AM is the introduction of a material’s porosity that decreases density and therefore weight of a given product with a disproportionately low effect on mechanical properties in most cases.

The medical and dental sectors have been revolutionised by AM over the last few years allowing the production of patient specific unique geometries such as crowns, bridges or custom hip implants. Recently Adidas with their Futurecraft 4D product line use AM to produce shoes that are customised to the needs of individuals.

3D Metal Printer_#3_adidas shoes_

Chris Sutcliffe, R&D director of AM products at Renishaw, mentions that ‘AM can help in the production of families of products based on a parametric CAD file, allowing manufacturers to create a series of products of perhaps different sizes or amendments to suit their purpose’.

The future looks bright for AM with the potential of ‘multi-functionality in serial parts delivered at production rates – a real tangible benefit of AM’.

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”

Lily Tomlin

“All generalizations are false, including this one.”

Mark Twain

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike


Posted in 3d, 3D Printing, additive manufacturing, business, cad, design, humor, humour, manufacturing, material science, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, precision engineering, printing, quotations, quotes, research science, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wheel Revolution !

Reconfigurable Wheel-tracks_#2_  Reconfigurable Wheel-tracks_#3_

There has always been a design ‘trade off’ for vehicle design engineers with regard to vehicle propulsion on different terrains – need for speed, energy efficiency and low noise for the road, as against stability and traction for the off road.

Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania may have come up with a solution with a prototype design called ‘reconfigurable wheel-tracks’ (RWTs). These consist of wheels that have tracks on their circumference which can be reshaped into triangles on the move and operate as traditional off road tracks.

The advantage of course is the adaptability to different terrains within seconds, the disadvantages are potential clogging of the moving parts of which there are many, potentially high maintenance, and the complexity that could make it prohibitively expensive.

Despite this the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are very interested in this new innovation because it can be retro fitted to standard army vehicles such as the Hummer, increasing it’s the safety & versatility.

Please see video link below.

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.”

Fred Allen

“If a book about failures doesn’t sell, is it a success?”

Jerry Seinfeld

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike

Posted in design, Engineering, engineering development, humor, humour, manufacturing, mechanical, Military, Propulsion, quotations, quotes, research science, technology, Traction, travel, Uncategorized, Vehicle | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Infrared Rectenna – waste heat recovery


Heat Rectenna_

Researchers from Sandia National Laboratories have developed a tiny silicon-based device that can harness what was previously called waste heat and turn it into DC power. It is a solid-state device with no moving parts to jam, bend or break, and doesn’t have to directly touch the heat source, which can cause thermal stress. It is also the size of a small finger nail !

Paul Davids, a physicist and the principal investigator for the study says, “We have developed a new method for essentially recovering energy from waste heat. Car engines produce a lot of heat and that heat is just waste, right? So imagine if you could convert that engine heat into electrical power for a hybrid car. This is the first step in that direction, but much more work needs to be done.”

What a useful invention that could recoup heat losses from engines and any other devices. This could have many applications, including millions of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines throughout the world, saving power and therefore lowering emissions !

For more info:

Hope you have a good month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“My dog used to chase people on a bike a lot. It got so bad, finally I had to take his bike away”

– Annonymous

“Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”

– Mark Twain

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike


Posted in business, Car, design, electrical engineering, Electronics, Energy, engine, Engineering, environment, Heat Energy, Heat Recovery, humor, humour, manufacturing, renewable energy, technology, transport, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tragedy of Italian Bridge Collapse

Italian Bridge Collapse_#4_

The Italian port city of Genoa experienced a terrible bridge collapse just one day before Italy’s major summer holidays on 14 August. A large section of the Morandi bridge collapsed amid heavy rainfall. Dozens of vehicles plunged 45m amid heavy traffic resulting in a death toll of 43. Genoa residents Carmelo and Wanda Presti said they thought there was an earthquake when they heard the sound of the bridge collapsing.

Part of the 1.2km (0.8 mile) long bridge spans the Polcevera waterway, with other portions reaching over railway lines and buildings.

It was designed by Riccardo Morandi and completed in 1967, but restructuring work was carried out in 2016.

Reasons for the collapse:

Italian Bridge Collapse_#5_

> Some experts have suggested that the ongoing maintenance work may have been a factor in the collapse.

> Others have suggested it may have been caused by a design flaw or heavy traffic.

> The bridge sees some 25 million vehicles every year, and a 2011 report by an Italian highways company said that the bridge had been suffering from degradation.

Antonio Brencich, a structural engineer who lectures at Genoa University, wrote in 2016 that it may have been more economical to rebuild the bridge because of the ongoing maintenance costs. “There are errors in this bridge. Sooner or later, it will have to be replaced. I don’t know when,” he warned.

Our thoughts & prayers are with the friends & families of the victims.

Let’s hope there is a thorough engineering inspection and risk assessment of other bridges in Europe to avoid a similar disaster.

Hope you have a good month


Reference: BBC News, ABC News
Posted in Bridges, business, civil engineering, design, Engineering, Europe, failure, material science, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gas Turbine Blades – 3D Printed !

Gas Turbine Blade_ AM Gas Turbine Blade #2_

3D Printing has come along way since it was first introduced a few years ago. It is now used in defence, aerospace, and automotive industries and has moved on to metal parts, and is referred to as AM (additive manufacture). The process consists of a nozzle that adds thin layers of metallic powder to a bed and a laser directed above, moves along the surface and melts the powder to form a solid metallic layer to a given design. The design itself is created as a 3D CAD model and imported into the printing machine.

The oil & gas industry has been a slow adopter to AM due to it’s inherent risk averse culture, but is now following suit with Siemens leading the way by producing gas turbine blades – presently at a pre-production level. New blade designs can be made within a few months, whereas with traditional casting & forging this could take up to 2 years. With AM new complex blade designs are now possible which can increase turbine efficiencies – such as lowering operating temperatures. There is also minimal waste material, and physical stock levels can be reduced with Just In Time manufacture – again reducing costs.

The use of AM has dramatically reduced production costs for the defence, aerospace & automotive industries – for example Boeing reduced costs by $1m on the production of it’s 787 Dreamliner simply by using printed parts !

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”

– Benjamin Franklin

“If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if it is tea, please bring some coffee.”

– Abrahm Lincoln


ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike


Posted in 3d, 3D Printing, business, cad, design, Energy, engine, Engineering, engineering development, Gas Turbine, humor, humour, Industry, manufacturing, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, power generation, precision engineering, quotations, quotes, technology, turbine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FCEV or BEV – VHS or Betamax?

Fuel Cell Car - Toyota Mirai__  Electric Car - Nissan Leaf_.jpg

The battle for market share between Fuel-Cell Electric vehicles (FCEVs) and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) continues with BEVs taking an easy lead in car units sold to date – 300k+ units as opposed to 5k ! This competition for market share reminds me of the video format war between VHS and Betamax in the late 70s !

The pros & cons of FCEVs are that they are quick to refuel, but there are very few hydrogen fueling stations around. They tend to have a longer range before refueling is required than BEVs and there are no emissions except heat & water. One of the first FCEVs to recently go on sale to the general public was the Toyota Mirai – which means ‘future’. The energy density of this car is 5 times higher than current BEVs, so intuitively it seems a better solution. The diversity and scope of FCEVs now also includes passenger trains, buses, vans, and fork lift trucks.

BEVs on the other hand have a lower energy density than hydrogen or traditional petroleum fueled cars. Their range between charges has historically been a limiting factor. Although today’s BEVs have improved dramatically with increased energy densities and longer ranges due to rapid advances in battery technology. The re-charging time has also reduced considerably, but still much slower than fueling FCEVs.

Hydrogen as a commodity has also been used for long term energy storage in the renewable energy industry, and therefore helping with ‘grid balancing’. In addition Hydrogen is a ‘cleaner’ burning fuel reducing the carbon footprint for industry over and above traditional fossil fuels.

In summary FCEVs & BEVs both enjoy zero emissions, and FCEVs can refuel quickly but hydrogen fuel stations are few and far between ! Whereas BEVs take much longer to charge but electric points are comparatively numerous and convenient. Therefore at the moment, as they say in parliament, I think the BEVs “have it” !

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”.

– Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have”.

– Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike


Posted in business, cad, Car, design, electric vehicle, electrical engineering, Energy, engine, Engineering, engineering development, fuel cell, humor, humour, manufacturing, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, power generation, quotations, quotes, renewable energy, technology, travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It is not personal but business data !

Preventative Maintenance__#3_   Preventative Maintenance__#2_

Business data is being used in our factories and services industry to decrease maintenance costs. There are two types of maintenance: ‘condition based’ and ‘predictive’. The former tends to be reactive, repairing faults & failures as they occur over time, whereas predictive maintenance is pro-active and relies on performance data.

Predictive maintenance works on real-time anomaly detection algorithms that can pick up tell tale signs of a fault by processing huge amounts of historic and real-time machine behavioural data.

To achieve the optimal balance in maintenance, parts need to be changed at just the right time, before a fault or failure occurs, to avoid further damage and limit the impact of systems downtime and loss of production. Preventative repairs can be scheduled to optimise production or machine output.

Today we have access to so much data, via machine sensors & instrumentation and the ‘internet of things’, which once utilised correctly can be used by the predictive algorithms. This utilisation comes under the banner of ‘data science’, which interprets & processes the data to develop predictive models.

In a nutshell Pedictive Maintenance is a pro-active approach to ensure high machine efficiency & reliability that ultimately saves industry money by the utilisation of performance data.

Hope you have a great month

All the best


Quotation corner:

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

– Thomas Edison

“No man goes before his time – unless the boss leaves early”

– Groucho Marx


ps  If you have enjoyed the blog please forward to those who might be interested, many thanks in advance, Mike



Posted in business, failure, humor, humour, manufacturing, mechanical, MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, quotations, quotes, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment