ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom ISO 9001 & UKAS Registered, Electron Beam Services in the United Kingdom

29/03/21
The World Rally Championship (WRC) remains undecided on how its cars should be powered beyond 2024, according to a report on the Autosport website. The Federation Internationale De L’Automobile (FIA) rally director Yves Matton said the WRC has ‘no clear position’ on the matter.

Currently, all WRC cars are petrol powered, but from 2022, new rules mean that Rally1 cars will be powered by a hybrid system. An internal combustion engine will be combined with a 134bhp electric motor, giving the Rally1 cars just over 500bhp in total. The rules are initially set to apply for three seasons.

When questioned whether the hybrid approach would dampen enthusiasm for the sport, Matton said: "At the moment, it seems that there is no clear position for the future – full BEV [Battery Electric Vehicle], hydrogen fuel cell and e-fuels [synthetic fuels like methanol] all seem to have a place in the following era.”

Matton continues: “What we do know is that motorsport will continue to do what it does best: adapt and embrace the market trends, consumer needs and societal change.” The regulations will be reviewed after three years, to take into account any new developments in technology.

It has been suggested by the FIA that the power from the onboard battery pack can be deployed exclusively on certain sections of the rally, such as pedestrianised urban areas, to limit emissions. At other points on the route, the extra power could be used to enhance performance.

Meanwhile, Rally GB lost its slot in the 2021 schedule, meaning that the UK will not be hosting a round of WRC for only the third time since the origin of the series in 1973. There were hopes that the event would be hosted in Northern Ireland, but talks to secure £2 million in funding came to nothing.

Matton has expressed confidence that the UK will be welcomed back into the calendar, despite the disappoint of this year.

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22/03/21
The government is set to invest £90m into five major innovate aerospace projects that have the potential to revolutionise the field of aerospace manufacturing.

The projects set to benefit from the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme range from a 3D printer for precise metal components, automatic wire manufacturing and development into composite materials for wings, according to a Gov UK press release.

The focus of the grants primarily focuses on simplifying and speeding up the production of high-quality aerospace parts, using technologies such as electron beam welding and 3D printing, as well as creating ever more lightweight materials.

The latter aspect is particularly important as weight is the primary factor as to whether certain flight plans are possible, and the less heavy the plane is, the less fuel is required to travel a given distance.

This also creates the potential for hybrid and electric powered aircraft in the future.

The five projects that are set to receive the grant money include:
  • Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development (ASCEND) – This consortium, which includes GKN Aerospace and McLaren Automotive is focused on technology development for creating composite materials.
  • Large Scale Additive Manufacturing for Defence and Aerospace (LAMDA) – This project is set to develop a 3D printer for metal components, which will allow small parts to be mass-produced with a greater level of consistency.
  • Smarter Testing – The initiative, led by Airbus, aims to create a new testing process for aircraft and their various parts, which will combine virtual tests with physical ones to reduce development time and costs.
  • Connected Reconfigurable Factory (COREF) – This attempts to bring smart industry concepts, tools and processes to more complex low volume manufacturing, creating two innovation laboratories that can help to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
  • LiveWire – A system for automating wiring, currently a process that is undertaken by hand, which will lead to better-performing electronics at a lower cost.
09/03/21
A ground breaking project which uses 3D technology to get an accurate printed model of a patient’s heart before surgery is underway, healthtechdigital.com reports. The program will be funded by Hampshire charity Wessex Heartbeat, and the technology will be used by clinicians operating on children at University Hospital Southampton.

3D modelling is being more widely used throughout the NHS, for greater accuracy in the pre-operative planning stage for children with congenital heart disease (CHD). The recreation of the patient’s heart will give in-depth insights for surgeons, allowing them to plan procedures down to the last tiny detail.

Mr Nicola Viola, who is one of the UK’s top paediatric and adult congenital cardiac surgeons said: “Working with Axial3D’s 3D printing team allows us to focus on the patient’s heart in the confidence that they are printing exactly what we need.”

“Even more importantly, the ability to customise each model before printing allows us to personalise treatment further, ensuring that we know exactly what we are dealing with before reaching the operating theatre.”

The more efficient method of surgery will also reduce the number of invasive operations the child will have to undergo in the future, as well as giving peace of mind to the family. The 3D printing service is provided by Axial3D, who are specialists in this field, and can create and ship a model in under 48 hours.

The firm are hoping to dispel myths that 3D printing within the medical sector is a drawn out and expensive process. They have made their printing hub accessible to all NHS and private hospitals.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the UK and is especially devastating for children and their families. The revolutionary technology will transform and personalise treatment, and can also be used to provide training opportunities.

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22/02/21
An astronaut, explore and video game designer is going to be the first British person to both travel into space and explore the deepest depths of the Mariana Trench.

Richard Garriott, son of NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, was the sixth space tourist to head to space and is set to be just the 14th person to have set foot at the deepest point of the Pacific Ocean.

The mission, which will take Mr Garriott seven miles below the surface of the Earth, will also carry small poems to bring creative works to the deepest part of the seas.

Mr Garriott, a video game designer often known by his pseudonym Lord British, has also travelled to both the North and South Pole, as well as wreckage site of the RMS Titanic.

All of these high-pressure environments required electron beam welding technology to ensure no hull breaches or other structural issues would affect the journey.

He famously spent $30m of the money he had made on the highly successful Ultima series of role-playing games to fund his space flight, which itself became part of a $28m lawsuit relating to another game he was promoting at the time, Tabula Rasa.

The story at the time is that whilst Mr Garriott was preparing for the trip to space he simply wanted to pursue other endeavours. However, the company he was working for, NCSoft, had actually fired him whilst in quarantine and forced him to sell his stock options, costing him millions.
09/02/21
Large scale electron beam services could be made more efficient through the use of tiny diamond tips according to a new study undertaken by the US Department of Energy (DoE).

The study primarily looked into how diamond tip arrays could be used along with a concept known as field emission to create transversely shaped electron beams, to see if particular shapes are more effective for different purposes.

Before these experiments, the main way to produce a transverse beam was to use an intercepting mask on the electron beam to catch the beam and shape it after it had been fired, which was inconsistent and hazardous.

Applying a field emission field diminishes the quantum barriers electrons can tunnel through, which according to one of the authors of the study, is the equivalent of turning a brick wall into easily penetrable drywall.

The experiment used photoelectric cathodes which were shaped using a strongly concentrated electric field.

The researchers achieved this using a film of diamond pyramids no bigger than 10 micrometres per side and arranged into a 1mm equilateral triangle to form a triangular electron beam.

The complication of such a process is having to balance two competing phenomena to have both power and the correct shape.

Too high a current on the electron beam and the electrons would not maintain their triangular shape, but the current needed to be high enough to ensure the electrons would leave the diamond material in the first place.

There is a range of potential applications for a transversely shaped beam, including radiofrequency guns, terahertz devices and nanoelectronic purposes.

29/01/21
On Sunday 17 January, Virgin Orbit successfully launched its first satellites into orbit, however, unlike any method ever used before, the company used an out of service 747 jumbo jet to launch a rocket from 35,000ft, meaning it is now possible to send spacecraft from anywhere in the world at a much lower cost than traditional rocket launches.

Engineering & Technology report that the specially modified 747, named Cosmic Girl, took off from California's Mojave desert on Sunday morning to fly out over the Pacific Ocean. An hour into the flight, the jet banked to the right, dropping its payload, a 21m-long rocket, called LauncherOne, which ignited its booster and climbed into space.

Currently, the only place that has a special license to launch such satellite-carrying planes is in California, but it is hoped that many more places will be granted permission in the near future. Virgin Orbit hopes to launch from Cornwall later in the year to tie in with the G7 summit in June.

The team behind Virgin Obit confirmed that the satellites onboard LauncherOne made it successfully into orbit a few hours after the launch.

"A new gateway to space has just sprung open," said Virgin Orbit chief executive officer, Dan Hart.

Space launches have always been massively expensive, and until recently has been carried out by governments. But there has been a growing interest in getting smaller, lower-cost satellites into orbit.

Many of these satellites are used to monitor weather and climate on Earth, while others turn their gaze outwards to study the universe. A vast number are also used for communications.

But some of the satellites launched on Sunday were about the size of a shoebox and had been developed by university research teams, to be used as part of Nasa educational missions. It is hoped that lower-cost launches will help smaller companies and organisations get equipment into space, and open up space exploration and research to many more people.

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26/01/21
AE Aerospace, a firm based in the West Midlands, has won a contract to supply components for the Airbus A220.

Reporting on the news, Production Engineering Solutions noted that this contract will boost sales levels at the firm back to where they were in 2019, before the pandemic hit and the aerospace sector took a significant knock.

Airbus has awarded AE Aerospace a three-year contract, with the news provider pointing out that this lucrative deal is in part due to the company’s continued investment in its facilities, manufacturing technology and team.

The news provider also revealed that, due to the investment in technology and facilities, the company was able to offer the manufacture of the required components at a more competitive price.

Peter Bruch, managing director at AE Aerospace, told the publication that the order is a “welcome boost”, not only to the company but also the West Midlands. He added that it also ensures jobs in the UK.

There are currently two aircraft in the A220 range, both of which are single-aisle aircraft that, according to the company, are designed to cater for the 100-150 seat segment.

The A220-100 and A220-300 share over 99 per cent parts commonality, as well as the same pilot rating. What’s more, they are highly fuel efficient, delivering 25 per cent lower fuel burn per seat than any previous generation aircraft. They also generate lower emissions and half the noise footprint.

If you need specialist electron beam welding as part of an aerospace project that you’re working on, contact our team of experts today to find out more about our services.

12/01/21
A research team for the University of Pittsburgh have invented a new way to create programmable quantum materials by using an electron beam to “sketch” patterns of electrons together.

This enables tiny two-dimensional electronic materials to be created that can be used for quantum simulation and quantum transport.

There are many industries in which electron beam services are used, from aerospace electron beam welding to lithography, and it was the latter technology that was used by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh.

Electron-beam lithography is where a focused beam is used to draw custom shapes onto an electron-sensitive resist film.

This is used to create exceptionally tiny structures only nanometres in size, by first exposing a resist using a programmed electron beam then immersing the resist into a solvent for developing.

If the voltage of an electron beam is lowered to just a few hundred volts and it is used not on a resist but a programmable quantum material such as lanthanum aluminate/strontium titanate (LAO/STO), quantum devices and artificial lattices can be sketched with exceptionally high precision.

The team at Pittsburgh claim that this method of creating quantum structures is 10,000 times faster than the previously used method of using an atomic force microscope, and is much easier to reprogram.

Graduate student Dengyu Yang, who developed the technique described as like using a pen to sketch onto a canvas, highlighting the ease in which complex structures can be designed and tested.
06/01/21
2020 has seen major upheavals in the healthcare sector, as routine treatments have been side-lined to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to a backlog of cases in cancer care in particular. The BMA has reported worrying statistics in patient referral for treatment, which are at half the 2019 value for the same time last year.

The bottleneck in the system means that future cancer patients will have to wait longer for treatment. However, there is some good news for clinicians and patients, with Health Tech Digital reporting a recent breakthrough in cancer care technology.

Scientists have learned from the rapid production of the COVID vaccines, which saw development timeframes reduced dramatically from a typical 10 years to just under 12 months. One response has been to speed up cancer radiation delivery by employing hypofractionation.

This is a technique where patients are given fewer radiation sessions at a higher dosage rate. Hospital visits are therefore reduced, and the treatment timeframe is shorter. The more powerful radiation doses require a higher degree of accuracy, and the NHS is employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to enable this.

AI Autocontouring technology is playing an important role in speeding up and improving the crucial task of outlining a patient’s organs that would be vulnerable to radiation treatment.

Angela Rubio, former Chief Medical Dosimetrist at the University of New Mexico Cancer Centre comments: “Prior to using AI, contouring for a head and neck cancer patient would take about two hours to complete. With autocontouring it takes about 30 minutes. That is a 75 per cent time-saving for each head and neck patient.”

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has expressed his support for AI technologies, and the NHS has announced an £140m investment programme. While this is positive news for the overstretched healthcare system, experts acknowledge that implementing the new technologies will take time and training.

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07/12/20
The UK’s Sustainable Aviation coalition has written to the government calling on politicians to provide support to developments within the sector to help deliver net-zero flights.

In a letter to the prime minister, leading figures in the sector stated that three areas in particular need support if the country is to realise its ambition of providing flights with no emissions.

These three areas are the development of sustainable aviation fuels, completing airspace modernisation and investing in ground-breaking electric, hybrid and hydrogen-powered aircraft.

The letter describes this as a “once in a generation chance for the UK to seize the opportunity to lead the world, both in delivering net-zero flight and to enable UK aviation to support our economic recovery through the high-skilled jobs, supply chain and export benefits that investment in new green aviation technology will bring”.

Among the measures the coalition is urging the government to take are to provide capital grants and targeted loan guarantees to businesses working in one of these three areas of the aerospace sector.

This targeted financial support will be particularly crucial for the country’s emerging sustainable aviation fuels industry, the coalition added.

Earlier this month, Production Engineering Solutions shared the findings of research conducted by PwC, which found that the UK’s aerospace sector remains the most attractive for investment in Europe, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.

In global rankings, the UK comes seventh, with the US at the top of the list, followed by Singapore, Canada, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

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