Southampton engineers produce plane with 3D printer

July 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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World’s first ‘printed’ aircraft

Engineers at the University of Southampton have designed and flown the world’s first ‘printed’ aircraft produced with a 3D printer.

The SULSA (Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft) plane is an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) whose entire structure has been printed, including wings, integral control surfaces and access hatches. It was printed on an EOS EOSINT P730 nylon laser sintering machine, which fabricates plastic or metal objects, building up the item layer by layer.

No fasteners were used and all equipment was attached using ‘snap fit’ techniques so that the entire aircraft can be put together without tools in minutes.

The electric-powered aircraft, with a 2-metres wingspan, has a top speed of nearly 100 miles per hour, but when in cruise mode is almost silent. The aircraft is also equipped with a miniature autopilot developed by Dr Matt Bennett, one of the members of the team.

Laser sintering allows the designer to create shapes and structures that would normally involve costly traditional manufacturing techniques. This technology allows a highly-tailored aircraft to be developed from concept to first flight in days. Using conventional materials and manufacturing techniques, such as composites, this would normally take months. Furthermore, because no tooling is required for manufacture, radical changes to the shape and scale of the aircraft can be made with no extra cost.

The project has been led by Professors Andy Keane and Jim Scanlan from the University’s Computational Engineering and Design Research group. “The flexibility of the laser sintering process allows the design team to re-visit historical techniques and ideas that would have been prohibitively expensive using conventional manufacturing,” said Professor Scanlon. “One of these ideas involves the use of a Geodetic structure. This type of structure was initially developed by Barnes Wallis and famously used on the Vickers Wellington bomber which first flew in 1936. This form of structure is very stiff and lightweight, but very complex. If it was manufactured conventionally it would require a large number of individually tailored parts that would have to be bonded or fastened at great expense.”

“Another design benefit that laser sintering provides is the use of an elliptical wing planform. Aerodynamicists have, for decades, known that elliptical wings offer drag benefits. The Spitfire wing was recognised as an extremely efficient design but it was notoriously difficult and expensive to manufacture,” said Professor Keane. “Again laser sintering removes the manufacturing constraint associated with shape complexity and in the SULSA aircraft there is no cost penalty in using an elliptical shape.”


SULSA is part of the EPSRC-funded DECODE project, which is employing the use of leading edge manufacturing techniques, such as laser sintering, to demonstrate their use in the design of UAVs.


The University of Southampton has been at the forefront of UAV development since the early 1990s, when work began on the Autosub programme at its waterfront campus at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. A battery powered submarine travelled under sea ice in more than 300 voyages to map the North Sea, and assess herring stocks.


Now, the University is launching a groundbreaking course which enables students to take a Master’s Degree in unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV) design.


This is the first scheme of its kind and from September 2011, postgraduates can take part in a one-year programme covering the design, manufacture and operation of robotic vehicles. The degree will cover marine, land based and pilotless aircraft, typically used in environments that are deemed unsafe or uneconomic, such as exploration under sea ice, or monitoring gas emissions from volcanic eruptions. NASA expects UAVs to become ‘standard tools’ in fields such as agriculture, earth observation and climate monitoring.



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BBC News – Will 3D printing revolutionise manufacturing?

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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BBC News – Will 3D printing revolutionise manufacturing?.

EADS in Bristol is quoted on its use of 3D printing technology

Chippenham company leads US public safety technology revolution

July 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Key step to a US national network

IPWireless in Chippenham has used a show in the US to launch a new communications system for federal government and public safety applications that for the first time is creating a national network.

The company, which has over 100 engineers in the town, develops technology and systems that are part of the latest LTE communications standard. Its LTE system will be used by Adams County in Colorado for their Public Safety Network in the 700MHz that has been allocated for a national US broadband public safety network.

The network is one of the first in the country to be deployed in 700MHz and will be integrated and deployed by IPWireless’ system integrator partner, Raytheon, to provide the county’s Police, Fire and EMS first responder agencies with a dedicated wireless broadband network that enhances public safety and improves citywide data communications, while lowering overall communication costs.

“After our extensive review of potential LTE solutions for the Adams County 700MHz LTE network, it was clear that IPWireless had leveraged its experience and expertise in government mobile broadband and 3GPP technologies to develop an LTE solution that better meets the unique needs of government customers,” said Bill Malone, Executive Director of Adams County Communications. “The IPWireless LTE Solution allows us to meet our immediate requirements to support efficient communications for our 1,500 diversified users and will also scale to support neighbouring counties, the state of Colorado, or even the surrounding region as part of the nationwide public safety network.”

New products

The company also launched a range of new systems. The EPC3000 is designed to support small-to-large local and regional networks, and scales as government agencies needs evolve to support large state-wide network deployments and ultimately, an interoperable national public safety network. The EPC200 is designed to support single cell deployments for military applications, private compounds or disaster response. Both are designed to work with other LTE networks.

The company has also developed a new digital and radio frequency card that supports the latest LTE tecnhnology, called Release 8, and is software upgradable to Release 9. This can be deployed outdoors at the tower top or building rooftop, at the base of a tower, or in an equipment room, shelter or outdoor cabinet. It is also ideally suited to rapid deployment disaster response networks and military tactical deployments.

“We are dedicated to helping government agencies maximize their spectrum assets especially during these challenging economic times,” said Bill Jones, CEO of IPWireless. “Our LTE solutions provide the performance, scalability and flexibility government agencies require so they can deploy mobile broadband networks more easily and with less operational overhead than is traditionally associated with network build outs.”

The company also offers LTE modem devices, including PCI Express Mini cards and USB sticks that support band 14 (public safety and D-block) in 700 MHz as well as a wide range of commercial bands. These LTE modems can be supplied with other specialized public safety user devices, including devices that are backwards compatible to 3G commercial networks.

An IPWireless Band Class 14 LTE USB modem is currently being tested on the LTE emergency communications demonstration network in Boulder, Colorado. The demonstration network is being managed by the Public Safety Communications Research program established by the US Department of Commerce and is intended to provide a common demonstration site for manufacturers, carriers, and public safety agencies to test and evaluate advanced broadband communications equipment and software for emergency first responders.

 SW Microelectronics iNet logo

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Kyoto delegation visits Bristol to explore research collaboration

July 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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A top-level delegation from Kyoto University visited Bristol as part of an ongoing relationship aimed at exploring collaborative research opportunities. The visit aims to showcase some of Bristol’s expertise in environmental change, nuclear research and composite materials, and builds on previous collaborative work in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), and clinical translational research (TR).

During the stay, the team, led by Professor Kiyoshi Yoshikawa, Executive Vice-President for Research, visited the University’s National Composites Centre to see its innovation in high-tech materials and example of university – industry collaboration. They saw some of the groundbreaking work being carried out in the Cabot Institute, which is developing risk and resilience models for major catastrophes, linking the environment, critical infrastructure and the insurance industry.

The delegates met with academics from the Faculties of Engineering, Social Sciences and Law and Medical Faculties, and toured the School of Chemisty’s state-of-the-art laboratories.“In order to tackle the increasing challenges that are likely to have a major impact on people’s lives in the future, it is important for Bristol to collaborate with leading research universities such as Kyoto to harness the research excellence at both institutions, and to explore collaboration with industry partners,” said  Professor Guy Orpen, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise. “The relationship between Bristol and Kyoto continues to mature and I am convinced will lead to even further interaction, collaboration and activities between academics and students at both universities.”

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Exeter develops magneto-optical sensor for detecting malaria

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Researchers at Exeter University have developed a handheld  instrument that can rapidly diagnose malaria. It uses magneto-optics to detect the hemozoin crystals produced as a byproduct of malaria parasite digestion of hemoglobin in the red blood cell and so avoids having to take blood to sample.

Phase I of the project developed the hand-held diagnostic device that can detect malarial infection at well below 100 parasitized red blood cells per microliter in less than two minutes in the lab. In Phase II, simpler yet improved second generation devices will undergo further development and clinical testing under field conditions until they can meet the sensitivity and specificity standards required of a test for malaria.

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Centre opens for road-testing intelligent transport systems – E & T Magazine

July 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Centre opens for road-testing intelligent transport systems in Nuneaton – close to the region and a key resource for system testing

via Centre opens for road-testing intelligent transport systems – E & T Magazine.

BAE Systems recruiting hundreds as part of investment in skills – E & T Magazine

July 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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BAE Systems recruiting hundreds as part of investment in skills – E & T Magazine.

Southampton research brings smart gold nanoparticles closer to a treatment for cancer

July 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Scientists at the University of Southampton have developed smart nanomaterials which can disrupt the blood supply to cancerous tumours and be used in nanosurgery.

The team of researchers, led by Physics lecturer Dr Antonios Kanaras, showed that a small dose of gold nanoparticles can activate or inhibit genes that are involved in angiogenesis – a complex process responsible for the supply of oxygen and nutrients to most types of cancer.

“The peptide-functionalised gold nanoparticles that we synthesised are very effective in the deliberate activation or inhibition of angiogenic genes,” said Dr Kanaras.

The team went a step further to control the degree of damage to the endothelial cells using laser illumination. Endothelial cells construct the interior of blood vessels and play a pivotal role in angiogenesis. They also found that the gold particles could be used as effective tools in cellular nanosurgery.

“We have found that gold nanoparticles can have a dual role in cellular manipulation. Applying laser irradiation, we can use the nanoparticles either to destroy endothelial cells, as a measure to cut the blood supply to tumours, or to deliberately open up the cellular membrane in order to deliver a drug efficiently,” said Dr Kanaras.

TopicLogic looks to shine out of the cloud in the US

July 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Bristol startup TopicLogic is looking to raise runds for the launch of its cloud-based software in San Francisco later this year.

The company develops a web-based service that manages online storage such as Evernote and Dropbox. It has already raised £100,00 in angel funding and is looking for £250,000 to support the product and for online marketing, with the launch at the TechCrunch event in September.

The tool is already being used in a trial of barristers in London to organize their legal documents.

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Brightpearl aims at the US from Bristol

July 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Bristol startup Brightpearl is aiming to make waves in the US.

The company raised £3m last month and has starting gaining key customers in the US for its software that dramatically simplifies backend systems for online retailers and wholesalers with integrated web-based software for accounting, CRM, stock control and ecommerce. This builds on £1m investment in 2008. In the last 12 months the company has moved from 100 to 500 customers.

“What we want to be is a success story for the South West in cloud-based software, and hopefully we can build a really successful US business from Bristol,” said US entrepreneur and CEO Salman Malik. “It’s a fantastic ride.”




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Bristol starts offering its research for free

July 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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Following the ground breaking study into offering IP with minimal licensing restrictions, Bristol University has started offering IP from its research in computer science,  wireless technology, computer vision and semiconductor technology to companies under a new licensing scheme.

“As early adopters of the Easy Access IP model we have a real opportunity for companies to move our innovations into the marketplace more quickly and easily than before,” said Dr Neil Bradshaw, Director of Enterprise at the University of Bristol. “This is a significant advance for our Universities and one where we are leading the world.”

The ‘Easy Access IP’ project aims to increase engagement between universities and industry and speed up the transfer of academic knowledge and expertise into the hands of commercial partners who can then develop it to benefit the economy and society as a whole.

Category Ref Title
Wirelesss & video 1548 Enhanced Image Compression using region-based Texture Modelling
Computer Vision 1556 Improved Low Light Imaging by Automatic Contrast Enhancement
  1580 Real-time Distance Measurement while Driving
1597 Automatic Identification of Obstructions while Driving
Microelectronics 1516 More Efficient VCSELs Using Photonic Crystals with Microlids
Biotechnology 1579 Novel Pain Receptor and Associated Treatments


It is also offering IP in biomedical technology:

Ref Title
677 OdourReader – emission analysis device for rapid diagnosis of diseases
1248 Novel therapeutic for neuropathic pain
1450 Biocompatible Hydrogels from Self-assembling Peptide Fibres
1615 Novel NMDA Receptor Modulators with Varied Subunit Selectivity

The IP can be licensed from here with exclusive or non-exclusive licenses.



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SETsquared links up with local angel group as funding recovers

July 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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The SETsquared Business Acceleration Centre in Bristol has teamed up with the SouthWest Angel Investor Network (SWAIN) in a revenue sharing deal,. SWAIN, which brings together individuals to back projects with funding from £25,000 to £750,000, will have an office in the centre and be the ‘funder in residence’.

Early stage companies have struggled to raise money n the last year, says Centre Director Nick Sturge. In 2009 companies in the centre raised £20m, but last year it is fell to just £1.7m. So far this year those early stage ventures have raised £6.9m, and the Centre is closing its doors to new business as it is full until September.

The Centre will share the fees that SWAIN charge to arrange the deals, and will feed the income back into supporting new companies, says Sturge.

“This more formal partnership is the natural progression after so many years of working together,” he said. SWAIN started six years ago and its first three deal were with the Centre. “We have done well with venture capital invesmtent recently but there are many companies for whom angel investment is more appropriate and we are excited about accelerating this,” he said.

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SETsquared showcases cutting-edge SW technologies

July 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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An innovative system that aims to convert waste water to protein, creating algae farms for the fish and animal feed markets, and a spherical musical instrument that glows were just two of the pioneering technologies showcased this week in Bristol.

Some of the South West’s most innovative technology companies from the SETsquared Business Acceleration Centres at the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter presented their businesses to large corporate companies, prospective investors and grant-funders.

Danny Wootton, Innovation Director of Logica UK, gave the keynote speech, and described the importance of corporate and early stage companies working together: ‘In today’s economic environment, it’s clear that businesses doing everything themselves is a thing of the past. We see huge benefits from early-stage companies leveraging the routes to market and scale offered by a corporate and in return a corporate can tap into a constant stream of great innovative solutions and services from smaller businesses.’

Nick Sturge, SETsquared Centre Director, commented: ‘The key to success in any organisation is partnership: we are now working with corporates and investment groups to really accelerate the growth of companies we support. The creation of our joint technology investor network with SWAIN should double the amount of angel investments that happen.’

During the evening, eight selected companies entered a 60-second ‘Elevator Pitch’ competition to promote their businesses. The audience, of venture capitalists, SWAIN investors, representatives of the grant-funding and venture capital communities from London and the South West, senior executives from major corporates and supporters and mentors of the SETsquared activity, voted for the best pitch.

Aragreen (UK) Limited won the most number of votes and secured the top prize of £500 and the Veale Wasbrough Vizards Elevator Pitch trophy. By utilising a combination of cutting-edge production technology and what would otherwise be wasted nutrients (mainly phosphates and nitrates) from waste water, Aragreen aims to redefine the value proposition of algae, as a sustainable and cost-competitive source of protein, for commodity markets.

A further eight ventures that are supported by the SETsquared Centres at Bath, Bristol and Exeter showcased their work, including ‘nu desine’, which makes the Alpha Sphere, a novel new musical instrument that brings the musician away from the computer, and back to the instrument.

Three of the SETsquared’s 52 current members are based at the renowned Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol and receiving business support from the SETsquared Centre, demonstrating the value being created at the interface of creative industries and high-technology.

Dr Neil Bradshaw, a director of the SETsquared Partnership, commented: ‘This is the best city and region in the country to create a technology company and the event shows how universities, large companies and investors are all coming together to help entrepreneurs make these businesses even more successful.’

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Exeter pioneers 3D printing in chocolate

July 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
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3D printing with chocolate

3D printing with chocolate

Manufacturing and retail could get a boost from a newly-developed 3D chocolate printer.

The University of Exeter has developed a way of using the new 3D printing technology to make customised, edible treats from chocolate.

The project, in collaboration with the Brunel University and software developer Delcam, is funded as part of the Research Council UK Cross-Research Council Digital Economy Programme and presents many challenges. Chocolate is not an easy material to work with because it requires accurate heating and cooling cycles. These variables then have to be integrated with the correct flow rates for the 3D printing process. Researchers overcame these difficulties with the development of new temperature and heating control systems.
“This is an imaginative application of two developing technologies and a good example of how creative research can be applied to create new manufacturing and retail ideas,” said EPSRC Chief Executive Professor Dave Delpy. ““By combining developments in engineering with the commercial potential of the digital economy we can see a glimpse into the future of new markets – creating new jobs and, in this case, sweet business opportunities.”

3D printing is a technology where a three-dimensional object is created by building up successive layers of material. The technology is already used in industry to produce plastic and metal products, but this is the first time the principles have been applied to chocolate.

Research leader Dr Liang Hao of the University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences said: “What makes this technology special is that users will be able to design and make their own products. In the long term it could be developed to help consumers custom-design many products from different materials but we’ve started with chocolate as it is readily available, low cost and non-hazardous. There is also no wastage as any unused or spoiled material can be eaten, of course! From reproducing the shape of a child’s favourite toy to a friend’s face, the possibilities are endless and only limited by our creativity.”

A consumer-friendly interface to design the chocolate objects is also in development. Researchers hope that an online retail business will host a website for users to upload their chocolate designs for 3D printing and delivery.

Designs need not start from scratch, the web-based utility will also allow users to see designs created by others to modify for their own use.

“In future this kind of technology will allow people to produce and design many other products such as jewellery or household goods. Eventually we may see many mass produced products replaced by unique designs created by the customer,” said Hao.

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