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11 June, 2018 - 16:45 By Tony Quested

Eco-friendly innovation to the fore at IfM showcase in Cambridge

CleanTech innovation figured prominently in the Institute for Manufacturing’s Design Show 2018 at Cambridge University – the showcase for inventive undergraduate product prototypes.

On display were topical and useful ideas from IfM’s manufacturing engineering tripos undergraduates.

The showcase is described by IfM as “a major examinable component of the 3rd year course, for which students develop a new product with real business potential.”

They are asked to identify a customer need, research the market, develop original design concepts and create a full business plan. In previous years, a number of prototypes have gone into commercial production and won national prizes.

Among the products featured was Autobatik – an automation solution for the time and labour intensive Batik printing process, allowing for creative designs at sustainable production rates for the Indonesian market. It was created by Imogen Connor-Helleur, Rob Glew and James Wood.

The Bluebox Skipper – an invention by Toby Lane, Chiara Sexton and Alice Wong – is a tabletop unit which transforms polystyrene into a dense, reusable product, with the aim of minimising plastic waste in coastal communities.

Katherine Cook, Bert Dompeling and Matt Escott devised Hexamill – a six-axis desktop milling machine combining the versatility of a 3D printer with the manufacturing quality of a CNC mill, to bring prototyping in-house.

Hyperbot Pro is an autonomous buddy designed to capture hyperlapse footage, with an interface that can be integrated with a smartphone application for effective videographic creations. It is the brainwave of Tom Wilson, Miran Gilmore and Josh Thomson.

Garbage Guardian (courtesy Hanesh Patel, Jordan Thornton and Kate Read) is a trolley with a rotating belt which collects litter from rough terrain, increasing the rate of collection and reducing time and cost of labour compared with manual litter picking. 

Another standout product was Leaflogger which extrudes solid logs from dry leaves that can then be used as environmentally-conscious alternative to standard wood logs in fireplaces or barbecues. It has been invented by Skye Fletcher, Aleksander Mardinian, Shirley Ngan and Nick Reyner.

We’d say it was off the wall but The Muracle is clearly the opposite! It is an automated mural-painting robot, which can paint any image directly onto interior walls using a rope-suspended airbrush. Take a bow Harris Ryder, Dami Adebayo and Theo Heymann.

Also in the showcase was Paper Mill Thrill – a STEM outreach project for Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils; the tabletop paper mill is the centerpiece of an interactive workshop on engineering, science and sustainability and was created by Fraser McKay, Anna Quincey and Valentina Sassow.

Ben Weir, Callum McCarthy and Hugo Gale invented ReadySteadyGyro – a wearable device to counteract hand tremors, using gyroscopic effects to improve stability and control for the user. 

And Josh Shemtob, George Barbantan and Phil Knott could easily clean up commercially with their Soap for Life – cheap and sustainable access to soap for rural communities facing hygiene issues, creating anti-bacterial soap from by-product ash and cooking oil.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Soap for Life

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