Engineering Fellowships for Growth - Morphogenesis Manufacturing: Smart Materials With Programmed Transformations

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Aerospace Engineering


The future of manufacturing depends on a number of technological breakthroughs in robotics, sensors and high-performance computing, to name a few. However, nothing will have a greater impact on how things are made, and their subsequent capability, than the constituent materials from which they are constructed. This Fellowship will advance the underpinning engineering science, and demonstrate the potential of 'bottom-up' additive manufacturing to produce advanced metamaterials (materials not found in nature or engineering). To achieve this outcome, active advanced multifunctional materials, exhibiting programmed intelligence in complex 3D architectures, will be developed through creative manufacture. These new modes of assembly, i.e. manufacturing as a 'growth process', will rely on smarter materials, not machines of increasing complexity.

Planned Impact

Potential for economic impact and benefit to UK: The principal economic impact of this Fellowship will be delivered through the development of new metamaterials specifically for additive manufacturing, whether low cost desktop machines or dedicated full-scale production facilities. The AM process, along with the understanding behind new material combinations, offers considerable design freedom to all academic researchers and industrialists to reduce the lead times through rapid design to production, whilst incorporating unique and high-value-added features and performance. Impact will be at the heart of this Fellowship, with key industrial partners involved at every stage.

Societal Impact: The societal impact of this Fellowship could potentially be ground breaking. In 10 years' time, Additive Manufacturing concepts will drive creativity and individuality with consumers manufacturing a wide range of new products at home using advanced additive manufacturing processes and made from multifunctional materials. Desk-top ALM machines (typically, £1000-£2000, with standard polymer, e.g. RepRapPro (, Makerbot Industries ( or 'UP! Personal Portable 3D Printer' ( are widely found in Schools, Colleges and Universities worldwide as teaching aids and their potential as research tools is immense. Adding the potential of 'smart materials' to 'creative manufacturing' will offer engineering students of the future the unique opportunity to see, understand and exploit metamaterials at an early stage in their education. This Fellowship and the research outputs could have the same influential impact on the way people live their lives as smart phones and tablets have had in the past 5 years.

Training for the UK Knowledge Economy: A key output of this programme will be trained people, both the three directly-funded PDRAs and the associated two PhD students (funded directly by the University of Bristol). Due to the interdisciplinary and collaborative character of the research, all team members will be exposed to new techniques and organisations and enhance their understanding of complementary fields. Such qualified people specialising in manufacturing, experimental and mathematical modelling skills will be in high demand. Such expertise underpins the value-added manufacturing and knowledge economy that directly benefits the UK. The Fellowship will provide the PDRAs and PI with the opportunity to build a diverse network of academic and industrial linkages, and the ideal environment within which to develop their vision within industry or academia in the future.


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Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/M002489/1 31/05/2014 31/01/2016 £870,839
EP/M002489/2 Transfer EP/M002489/1 01/02/2016 30/05/2018 £628,702
EP/M002489/3 Transfer EP/M002489/2 31/05/2018 29/06/2019 £235,415
Description A new 3D printing manufacturing method which employs smart materials to permit shape change in response to a change in the surrounding environment. These are referred to as 4D materials, i.e. 3D printing of materials changing over time (1D) yielding a new advanced materials community of '4D materials'.
Exploitation Route The novel materials employed are bio-comparable and they over the potential for adaptive implants for the human body.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description The Fellowship findings have lead to my involvement in the British Standards Institute (BSI) national panel (since October 2021) to create a new test standard to fully capitalise on the growth of 4D printing, accurate representation and communication of 4D printed parts. To date, there are no means of reliably communicating the performance of 4D printed parts, and so this national panel will create a preliminary work item proposal and high-level draft to address this topic. Subsequently, this draft will be offered up to ISO. The ISO-level committees will include: ISO/TC 261 (Additive Manufacturing), ISO/TC 145 (Graphical Symbols), ISO/IEC JTC 1/WG 12 (3D Printing and Scanning), and ISO/TC 10 (Technical Product Documentation).
First Year Of Impact 2021
Sector Other
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

Description American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics' (AIAA's) Adaptive Structures Technical Committee
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Description DSTL - Open call
Amount £114,260 (GBP)
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2016 
End 01/2018
Description US Airforce
Amount $115,000 (USD)
Organisation US Air Force European Office of Air Force Research and Development 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2016 
End 09/2017
Description Interactive display in the 'Makershack' at Cheltenham Science Festive (6th - 11th June 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact My researchers developed and ran a interactive stand for the Cheltenham Science Festive in the 'Makershack' (6th - 11th June 2017). We were approached by Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious 2017 team to participate in this event (
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description STEM Fair at FIRST® LEGO® League International Open Championship 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I and my research group ran an interactive 3D printing display area/stand at the 2017 STEM Fair at the FIRST® LEGO® League International Open Championship 2017 (21st June - 24th June ) organised by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), Bath, UK. International participants in the competition visited our 'hands on display' to create and work with smart materials and 3D printers. This generated considerable interest in 3D printing which will now be taken back to the international schools.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017