As a research organisation, established in 1946, TWI has a long history of innovation and expertise in solving materials joining problems and applying technology engineering across every industry sector.
To support its sponsorship of the TWI Award for Technology Engineering in International Markets as part of the Cambridge News Business Excellence Awards list, TWI opened this year's Cambridge Awards Week series of events with a talk about innovation in joining technologies and recent developments in advanced engineering processes and their applications.
TWI's expert in electronics, photonics and sensors, Norman Stockham, led the 45-minute session against the backdrop of TWI's atrium exhibition of over 200 samples of technology engineering from miniature, microjoined electronics components to large laser-welded vehicle sections.
Norman illustrated how continued advances in electronics interconnect and packaging technology have enabled the miniaturisation of products such as mobile phones and medical implants. This has resulted in 'smart' implants, which have increased functionally such as heart pacemakers that can react to the needs of the body and communicate to the outside world and miniature diagnostic systems.
Of particular interest in this session was the selection of samples passed around the room of novel surface engineering and welding techniques developed at TWI including: spray coated ceramics for dielectric and biocompatible layers; examples of the Surfi-Sculpt technique for creating 3D shaped surfaces; and laser direct metal deposition for creating 3D structures for heat sinking electronic products and aircraft components.
Delegates also handled a sample of a laser-welded textile�- bonded as the infra-red laser energy passed through it and the weld forming only at a point where an energy absorbing dye is placed. The result is a continuous seam with the weld hidden inside the materials. This process is currently being assessed on a purpose built laser 'sewing' machine.
Finally, Norman showed how TWI has developed a method of welding wood by rubbing the two surfaces together and creating sufficient heat to obtain a strong bonded joint. This new process has significant benefits in terms of reduced environmental impact with respect to adhesives and is lighter than mechanical fasteners.
This fascinating talk was attended by around 30 delegates, including representatives from a number of businesses in the Canary Islands.
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