4D additive printing, data-centric engineering and smart materials present new challenges and opportunities for structural integrity and systems performance

The Foundation today launched its Foresight review of structural integrity and systems performance at the Third Lloyd’s Register Foundation Lecture at the National University of Singapore.

Download the Foresight review in structural integrity and performance

Modern society depends on complex products and engineering systems whose failure can lead to catastrophic consequences.  The performance and safety of these systems is an area which the LR Foundation can make a significant difference by targeting its research funding. This Foresight review guides the Foundation’s grant giving priorities in order to fund high quality research which has a real impact on the safety of life and property.

Singapore was chosen for the launch as the Foundation recognises not only the excellent research capabilities within Singapore, but also its importance as a gateway to other research excellence within the region. The Foundation’s trading group, Lloyd’s Register Group Ltd, has located one of its two Global Technology Centres in Singapore, has supported clients in Singapore for 137 years and is proud of its association with Singapore in its 50th year anniversary.  As a global charity, the LR Foundation wants to engage with the best researchers globally and encourages researchers in Singapore and the wider region to engage with Foundation research programmes.

Prof Richard Clegg, Managing Director of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation said: “Our report highlights the current best practice, technology trends and research needs so that we can enhance safety by fundamentally changing the design, manufacturing and reliability of complex infrastructures from the component to the system. We invite researchers from around the world to help us develop this programme”. 

Building on the findings of this review, the Foundation will identify aspects of structural integrity and systems performance on which to focus its research grants and education programme. The Foundation has awarded a £15m grant towards the establishment of the National Structural Integrity Research Centre (NSIRC), working in partnership with TWI Ltd, through their sponsorship of the Structural Integrity Research Foundation (SIRF). This will fund 83 PhDs over 10 years for which partners from around the world can apply.

The Foundation’s Foresight review of structural integrity and systems performance identifies the key safety challenges that exist in structural integrity and systems performance and recommends five priorities for future research and development:

1. The safety of systems containing 3D and 4D additive manufactured parts, including:

-       The new field of 4D printing, where the shape of a 3D printed item can change by a self-activated process triggered by the environment

-       Research into the mechanisms of in-service degradation to ensure long-term integrity of additive manufactured parts

-       Ensuring appropriate recognised training exists for those operating and creating parts by additive manufacturing

 2. Engineering science challenges: advancing the state-of-the-art to maximise safety, including:

-       Complex loading – modelling how force is transmitted between environment and structures

-       Residual stress engineering to increase fatigue life

-       Assurance of long-term performance of coatings

3. Development of an economic whole-system approach to demonstrate safety and integrity

4. Data-centric engineering, including:

-       Designing for data, recognising that embedded sensors, intelligent systems and data management will form part of engineering design requirements

-       Promoting data availability for public use including academic research and system improvements

-       Data analytics, coordinating with the work of the Alan Turing Institute to analyse data quickly and identify actions

5. Minimising the risks associated with maintenance and inspection, including:

-       Use of drones and robots to conduct inspection and/or maintenance

-       Developing assets and systems that are able to monitor their own condition

-       Design and build structures and equipment that require no maintenance or inspection

The review was drawn together by a panel of international experts, including members from Lloyd’s Register, UCL, University of Tokyo, Shell, University of Western Australia, National University of Singapore, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, TWI Ltd, Fraunhofer Institute, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Rolls Royce. The panel met in London and Singapore in June 2012, and were led by Professor Michael Fitzpatrick, LRF Chair in Materials Fabrication and Engineering at Coventry University, who will deliver The Third Lloyd’s Register Foundation Lecture this evening.

This Foresight review is the third in a series from the LR Foundation; the Foresight Review of Big Data launched in Dec 2014 led to a £10million research grant for the Turing Institute over five years, and the Foresight Review of Nanotechnology, published in April 2014 resulted in awarded grants totalling £9 million to three international consortia in the field of nanotechnology. The National University of Singapore (NUS) is directly engaged in two of these grants, one in partnership with the University of Cambridge and one in partnership with the Nobel Laureate Andre Geim at Manchester.

Download the Foresight review in structural integrity and performance