Industrial materials will change the way we create products; as part of the symposium ‘Manufacturing 2075’ scientists discussed the influence of future materials on the industry.
The one-day-symposium Manufacturing 2075 at Cranfield Uni, addressed the future of manufacturing and the utmost importance of long-term thinking in the field of developing new industrial materials.
It is an iron law even in science that people focus only on what is important today, or maybe in one, two, five years’ time. Short-term thinking is in human nature.
Cranfield University makes a difference and aims to focus on long-term thinking; especially when it comes to manufacturing, according to the director of manufacturing Prof Rajkumar Roy.
“Cranfield is passionate about engineering for life”, as Professor Rajkumar Roy said in the opening speech of the event.
“Engineering for life should not just create opportunities for scientist and engineers to create new products, but it should fundamentally change the life of people and make it better. And not just for our country but as well for the world.”
According to Roy, it is crucial for the industry to think in the very long term over a few decades, because in the best case, technologies, materials and products we develop now will still cope with the requirements in 20, 30 years’ time.
Because of the rapid change of technology and the ever-increasing life expectancy of people, it is crucial that new materials are as sustainable as possible.
Recent data published by the United Nations shows that in the 1950s, people were hardly living beyond 80 years, in 2016 individuals began crossing the 100 years mark, and in the future, people will live even longer having more capabilities and capacities.
Roy said: “Manufacturing, in simple terms, means to provide the needs for people. We make what is demanded, and therefore we must understand how our life is going to change in 50 years’ time.
He added: “And what does this mean in terms of new materials coming, new manufacturing techniques? We need to develop those products for the new life style.”
The world at 2100
Scientists agree on the fact that civilisation is heading towards a new technological revolution which changes our ways of communication by improving the speed of data transmission with more space-based systems.
In the future, we will be able to communicate even larger volumes of data than we can image today.
Roy said: “In 60 to 70 years, people will live on the moon. And, we will be communicating with each other. That will be normal and it will have lots of implications regarding new materials, which people on the moon can make but which are not available on the ground.”
Driver for Manufacturing 2075
Overall, four pillars determine the future of manufacturing: 1. lifestyle, 2. global environment changes, 3. intelligent materials 4. change of technology.
Roy underlined that the changes will be driven by new technologies, new materials science and new ways to synthesise materials. Manufacturing techniques – to make new products – must catch up to be in line with those materials.
Roy said: “Today we focus on sustainable materials with low energy footprint, the world’s resources are not going to be increased. So, whatever we do, when the civilisation moves forward, we need to find efficient ways of using resources, using materials, to satisfy the increased demands and needs in the world.”
Materials underpin our civilisation
It is common sense that civilisation has been built by the development of materials. But human civilisation, since the stone age has developed slowly for a long time. Only after thousands of years people could use metal.
Nowadays, we are using advanced materials to build our transport systems, create energy, communicate, improve the human wellbeing, medicine.
Senior lecturer in Low Energy at Cranfield’s Sustainable Manufacturing Systems Centre, Dr Konstantinos Georgarakis, said: “Future development within the next 60 years, will be driven by the innovation that we will have in a wide range of materials.
“These include nanomaterials, materials for energy, biomaterials, metamaterials, 2-D materials, carbon based materials, magnetic materials, electronic and superconducting materials, and finally many materials that have not been explored today.”
Key issues of the event were:
- Advances in materials research to enable technological innovation, serve society need and promote human-wellbeing
- Challenges for manufacturing new materials and how they can be addressed
- Risks in critical materials supply chains and the influence of the geo-political landscape
- Materials and manufacturing developments to tackle Global challenges: ‘clean growth’, global population increase and food security defence
- How big is the change going to be: lifestyle, environment, materials and technology?
- How do we plan and prepare for the future: research directions, skills development and education?