Innovation news in brief: BRE China; photonics; robotics; additive manufacturing

BRE China was launched at a ceremony in the city of Shenzhen

BRE launches new venture in China

A new body to support China’s endeavours to develop its towns and cities in a more sustainable way and help it meet its carbon reduction commitment has been launched by UK-based built environment science centre BRE.

BRE which has been working on a number of projects in the country for several years, including the creation of an Innovation Park in Gu’ian, the sustainable development of the international shipping centre marina project in Shanghai and a joint built environment research partnership with China’s top university Tsinghua and developer Evergrande. BRE’s flagship buildings and communities sustainability standard BREEAM has also been applied to several key developments across the country.

Special envoy for sustainable urbanisation to China, Sir Michael Bear, officially launched BRE China at a ceremony in the city of Shenzhen attended by key figureheads in the Chinese built environment.

He said: “BRE China… represents a very important development in our UK China bi-lateral trade relationship which is currently in ‘a golden era’. Mutual benefit is at the heart of our relations - we focus on bringing the best of China to the UK and the best of the UK to China – BRE is a very tangible example of this, I look forward to seeing it progress.”

Niall Trafford, chief operating officer of BRE and chairman of BRE China said: “The seeds for creating BRE China were sown during the visit of Chinese Premier Li-Keqiang to our Innovation Park in 2011. He asked us to share the knowledge we’ve gathered over the past decades on sustainable development and collaborate more with Chinese partners. We look forward developing new Chinese partnerships that will help us continue with our mission to build a better world together.”

EPSRC photo competition winner

Jon Parkins, a third year PhD student in the Centre for Industrial Photonics, part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Ultra Precision Engineering, has been announced as the EPSRC Science Photo Competition entry winner for the Innovation category (images of research that have inspired innovation or are related to commercial breakthroughs) achieving first place in the group.

His image, entitled ‘Where there is light, there is shadow’ shows engineering PhD student Karen Yu working on the ultra-precise ultrafast laser system developed by the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Ultra Precision. Extremely small, well controlled features can be created using ultrafast light pulses. These light pulses occur on a timescale faster than heat can pass between the atoms of the material, resulting in very little heat damage to the surrounding areas.

In the image  (above) a piece of glass is being processed with a high power ultrafast laser. This causes very bright plasma to form. The glass block channels the light through its sides resulting in a bright white glow emanating from the processing area which casts shadows around the room.

To view a larger image, please click here

Brighsolid scoops innovation prize

Scottish cloud hosting and data centre provider Brightsolid has become the only Scottish company to win an award innovation from its technology provider, reports the Press and Journal

The firm, owned by Dundee-based DC Thomson, received the Data Centre Excellence award from Rittal. Each year the data centre technology firm presents the award to the customer who has shown the greatest innovation in the design and running of a data centre and this year they decided this was Brightsolid.

Anthony Morgan, Account Manager at Rittal, said: “This award has been very well earned by Brightsolid. Its approach to building and running a data centre is hugely innovative and it has used technology in a way that is extremely beneficial to its customers.”

Richard Higgs, chief executive of Brightsolid, said: “We’re extremely proud to be the only Scottish company to be awarded the Data Centre Excellence prize by Rittal. We work incredibly hard to ensure that our facilities are accredited to the highest standards by all leading industry bodies like the Uptime Institute and Certification Europe.”

He added: “Our primary mission is to ensure that IT is deflationary for the rest of the decade and to do this we continually review our technology, its application and performance. This approach enables our customers, of all sizes, to live and work digitally whilst reducing the cost of service and increasing the value gained from technology.”

ABB hosts robotics seminar

ABB’s forthcoming Switch to Robots seminar will explain how ongoing reductions in the cost and complexity of robotic automation are opening up new opportunities for UK SME manufacturing companies.

Taking place at ABB’s Milton Keynes site on Tuesday 5th April 2016, the event will provide a simple step-by-step guide to introducing robot automation to the factory floor.

The seminar provides a step-by-step guide to the key issues around specifying, installing and operating a robot, including how to assess which processes can be automated and how to develop the right solution for your needs.

There will also be a hands-on workshop session in ABB’s training centre, providing the opportunity to see and use some of the latest robot technology, including ABB’s RobotStudio offline programming software, which helps to greatly reduce the time and cost of setting up a robot system by enabling robot cells to be modelled and tested off-line.

“Misconceptions about the cost, flexibility and complexity of robots are stopping many small to medium UK manufacturing companies from realising their true potential,” said Mike Wilson, sales manager for ABB Robotics in the UK and Ireland. “Our Switch to Robots event has been designed to help businesses to easily identify whether a robot could be beneficial and explain the steps they need to take in specifying and installing the best solution for their requirements.”

To book your place, click here

Record number of girls enter engineering competition

The fourth annual Talent 2030 National Engineering Competition for Girls saw a 55% increase in the number of girls involved with entries submitted from 157 teams.

Sponsored by Rolls-Royce, EDF Energy, PepsiCo and Centrica, the Talent 2030 competition asks girls to explore engineering solutions to twenty-first century problems.

Judge Carol Monaghan, MP for Glasgow North West said: “The wide ranging aspects of the projects submitted demonstrates how engineering impacts on every aspect of our lives. I hope some of these girls follow a career in engineering – they will have a bright future!”

Majestic team up with NASA and Made in Space

Innovation Birmingham Campus’ largest tenant Majestic has partnered with Made in Space, Inc. to produce the world’s first 3D printed landscape of the internet in zero gravity, on board NASA’s International Space Station.

The project is part of an ongoing partnership between NASA and Made in Space; who have designed, built and tested the world’s first 3D printer to work in outer space. Majestic – the developer of the largest global commercially available website link index – will work with Made in Space to produce a 3D model of how the internet works in zero gravity.

Founded in 2010, Made In Space, Inc. has developed additive manufacturing technology for use in the space environment. By manufacturing space assets in space, as opposed to launching them from Earth, the company plans to accelerate and broaden space development while providing unprecedented access for people on Earth to use in-space capabilities.

Majestic will utilise their ‘Majestic Landscape’ technology, which was developed in 2015 alongside leading digital artist, Brendan Dawes to launch the project. The 3D model is expected to return to Earth in summer 2017.

Dixon Jones, marketing director of Majestic said: “Majestic is a specialist search engine that has crawled the internet for the last 10 years and built up a huge data-set that lets digital marketers understand the link structure of the web and how trustworthy those links are.

“We are thrilled to embark on this voyage of discovery with Made in Space on board NASA’s International Space Station, to create a 3D image of what the fabric of the internet looks like to a search engine. By turning math into art, we hope to bridge the gap between two vast unknowns – the internet and space.”