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The Results of Innovation – Making things STRONGER or “tougher than the rest”

Next in our series on the aspects of innovation that may be eligible for tax relief, we turn our attention to efforts focused on R&D to “make things stronger.”

Does strong only ever just mean strong?
When we talk about making things stronger, we often think that the end result is that they will be “sturdy”. This might not be strictly accurate. Often the same technical challenges are faced in making products or components more durable or in reducing the impact of wear & tear. Especially when we are trying to extend the life expectancy of equipment developed for harsh environments, improving resistance to corrosion or extremes in temperature.

Graphene is the new black
At its simplest level this will include experimentation around how to most effectively incorporate new materials, that are known to add strength to a product, or remaking products entirely from new materials. Currently there is a considerable amount of research and development around the incorporation of graphene in products. While graphene is both very strong and flexible it is also particularly expensive and the challenge is currently to find the most cost effective approach to imbue products with the strength of graphene without making them prohibitively expensive, such as trying to combine graphene in the sole of running shoes strengthening the sole but still keeping them within the budget of the average runner.

Fly me to the moon (in a light and sturdy aircraft)
Over the last ten years the development of new alloys for advanced manufacturing has been gathering pace, such as the use of an aluminium-lithium alloy in the manufacture of aircraft fuselage. This new alloy offers improved stiffness, better corrosion resistance, improved fatigue strength and all with a significant weight saving on aircraft using traditional aluminium alloys or fibre composites. However, this innovative material solution was not a simple make it and use it. There has been on-going research and development over years to identify the Al-Li alloy providing the most appropriate mix of characteristics, not to mention endless prototyping and testing to ensure that this was in fact the best material for individual components.

Article originally published on Make UK

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