Category Archives: Miscellaneous

3D metal printing

3D metal printing is something that is very definitely here. Even though it’s new technology, it’s relatively easy to do, and very accessible. But what can you print using 3D metal printing? Let’s find out.

What is metal 3D printing?

3D metal printing is the process of creating 3D objects using laser based technology and powdered metals. The different types of metals that can be used in the printing process are:

  • Stainless Steel
  • Tool Steels
  • Titanium
  • Inconcel 625

There are many advantages to using 3D metal printing over traditional manufacturing processes, such as:

  • Reduced lead times
  • Reduction in material waste
  • Reduced price for one-offs or small runs
  • New design options
  • Reduced manual labour
  • Often safer

3D metal printing is changing the way many parts or created in low- to mid-volume production runs. These parts can often be made more quickly, more cheaply, and with less effort (than in traditional manufacturing). Also known as additive manufacturing solutions, the products are formed in a different way, often providing more freedom to produce parts that are more complex. The process doesn’t use tooling and is nearly fully automated. Traditional manufacturing will often remove material, however, 3d Metal Printing adds material allowing for more complex geometrics. Therefore, 3D metal printing is a very good option for many parts that might normally be very difficult or expensive to manufacture. Directed-energy deposition (ded additive manufacturing) is a type of additive manufacturing that involves a coaxial feed of powder or wire to an energetic source to form a melted or sintered layer on a substrate.

What is 3D metal printing good for?

Legacy parts – spare parts that are no longer provided or available from the original manufacturer. This has the potential to reduce obsolescence and extend the life of many products from kitchen appliances to cars.  

Spare parts – imagine a world where instead of ordering a new part for your car to be shipped halfway around the world, you’d simply load a digital file into the printer and make your own. This is already happening for many industries and makes amazing economic sense for many others. as 3D printing becomes more widely available, this is only set to increase in popularity and availability

Prototypes – tooling is a very expensive part of production, and often only becomes economically viable for large production runs. Therefore, creating prototypes for testing can be very expensive under normal circumstances. However, using a 3D printer to create your prototype has the potential to save many companies and organisations a huge amount

About the NHS Ambulance Service

As part of the NHS in the United Kingdom, the ambulance service is the emergency response arm which transports patients and responds to accidents and emergencies where they happen. Within the ambulance service there are two main functions; the emergency paramedical service (responding to emergencies where medical care is required there and then) and the patient transport service (taking patients to and from hospital.)

The ambulance service in the UK can be traced back as far as 1897 with services such as the Metropolitan Asylum Board in London. With the formation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948, it became a public duty to provide ambulances for those that needed them. however, between then and now, the ambulance service has gone through many changes.

For example, in light of technological advances, in 2001 the government began a four-year process of reforming the ambulance service. This saw improvements in response times and the use of new technology such as satellite navigation. The reform of emergency care also saw a funding of increase of frontline staff and vehicles. 2006 also saw significant changes with the number of ambulance trusts in England being reduced from 31 to 13 (and more recently reduced to 10).

A typical ambulance crew consists of an emergency care assistant and a paramedic. These crews are trained to be able to deal with virtually any type of healthcare emergency, including, cardiac arrest, and road traffic accidents. Typical emergency ambulances also carry a wide range of equipment such heart defibrillators, emergency oxygen, and intravenous drips.

NHS ambulances are distinctive with their high-visibility decals, although, private ambulances are not always so easily distinguishable. The one feature that denotes nearly all emergency vehicles is their emergency vehicle light. Even one of the most recent ambulance innovations, the bicycle ambulance (officially known as the Cycle Response Unit) is distinctive due to its blue lights and siren.

This new service, which operates in London, was initiated by Tom Lynch, a former competitive cyclist who joined the ambulance service at the age of 22. A formal trial of the service took place in 2000 and today the unit has a team of 60 staff. The Cycle Response Unit uses custom-built mountain bikes with London Ambulance Service livery. The rider wears London Ambulance Service livery and protective equipment and carries a comprehensive medical kit. A bicycle paramedic is said to cycle approximately 140 miles a week.

Centrifugal casting equipment

If you’re looking to find an efficient soldering consumables provider, have you considered the Mataconcepte Groupe? As the French specialist in non-ferrous alloys, Babbitt alloys, fusible alloys (with low melting temperatures) and fluxes used for industrial brazing and soldering, the METACONCEPT Group offers a wide range of filler metals, pure metals and alloys, as well as high-tech equipment for centrifugal casting. Not only is this organisation an accredited training provider, it also develops complex metal recycling processes. This range of expertise makes it a key player on a global scale

One of the things this group specialise in is centrifugal casting equipment. They’re the exclusive NICEM distributor in France and offer a complete modular range of machines designed for all casting needs. These machines combine a compact size with ‘unrivalled’ performance are perfect for the production of low and medium quantities of castings

Example machines include; the vulcaniser – an automatic vulcaniser machine for the production of silicones. With insulated heated plates, head and protection shield for energy saving. Features include oleodynamic system with auto-pump, automatic pressure adjustment during the operating cycle, digital pyrometer for temperature control, vulcanisation cycle timer with a micro-processor and stable memory display, cycle programming up to 99 hours and 59 minutes, plates opened via solenoid valves, double button closure and smoke extraction outlet

The automatic electronic centrifuge with a workstation, features a patented insulated protective screen at the start of the cycle. Other features include; extremely convenient mould loading, instantaneous machine start-up, speed and braking controlled via a ‘frequency convertor’, standard, reliable, asynchronous three-phase motor, adjustment of all components via a convertor, convertor controlled via a potentiometer or a 10-speed electronic programmer, and smoke extraction outlet

The furnace is an automated electric furnace for melting zinc alloys, complete with an insulated cover and protective screen. Features include a patented heating unit: interchangeable without touching the structure of the furnace, total circuit protection against excess temperatures, speed and braking controlled via a ‘frequency convertor’, two coupled digital pyrometers guarantee more accurate settings and a perfect temperature, cycle programming up to 99 hours and 59 minutes, and a smoke extraction outlet

In summary, if you’re in the market for centrifugal casting equipment, you could give the Metaconcept Groupe a call. If you have lead-free alloy and like centrifugal casting equipments, get in touch with them via their website

Hiring a motorhome? Here are some great places to visit in the Peak District

Stanage Edge – Motorhome holiday in the Peak District

Motorhome hire is a great option if you’d like to explore and visit areas such as the beautiful Peak District. You can travel anywhere the road takes you and you’ll normally easily be able to find somewhere to park up and spend the night. During the coronavirus pandemic, when holidays in many destinations are looking, at best, uncertain, motorhome hire is a very attractive option for many.

One of the benefits of the visiting the Peak District is the huge range of sights and attractions you’ll find; the beauty of the Peaks remains constant, so it’s only the very strictest lockdown that can prevent you enjoying it. But hiring a motorhome means that you have the flexibility to make the most of your holiday whatever restrictions are in place when your time off finally arrives.

Here are a few of our favourites from the Peak District. It isn’t an exhaustive list, but a selection to illustrate that however socially distanced we might need to be, you can still have a great holiday.


Perhaps the most iconic image of Dovedale is the stepping stones across the River Dove. The riverside path is a delightful, family-friendly walk taking you past woods that are teeming with wildlife. But if you are feeling up for a challenge then climbing Thorpe Cloud will reward you with incredible views across Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Bring walking boots!

Chatsworth House

On the bank of the River Derwent Chatsworth House is the magnificent home to the Cavendish family that has evolved over more-than-500 years it has been in the family’s ownership. The house itself has over 30 rooms normally  accessible by visitors, along with the shops and gardens which mean that whatever the restrictions there is likely to be something to do there for everyone.


A fixture on any list of the country’s most picturesque villages, Castleton is one of those small places that feels like it has everything. The village itself is packed with beautiful stone buildings and pubs where you can enjoy a pint with a view of Winnats Pass or Mam Tor. Or why not try the climb up Mam Tor to see the view that was celebrated as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Peak’ by the 17th century philosopher Thomas Hobbs.

Alton Towers (actually, just outside the Peak District)

One that might be susceptible to current coronavirus measures, but also one that highlights the huge diversity of the Peaks District and surrounding areas

Alton Towers is one of the country’s leading theme parks and has something for everyone, from thrilling rides for the grown-ups to CBeebies Land for those that might still be a little short (or a little scared) for the roller-coasters!

If your kids are not too happy about the prospect of spending time in the outdoors, you could consider sweetening the deal with a trip here 

Find your favourite

The beauty of a motorhome hire in the Peak District is the freedom to explore the country’s most beautiful region. It’s simply impossible to list everything you could want to see or do (although the Peak District’s tourist site makes a superb attempt). Most people find that however well-researched their itinerary they will end their holiday with a list of places they found they want to come back to see. But the great thing about the Peak District is that will still be here: just hire a motorhome and come back!

If you’re looking to hire a motorhome, why not call Fun4Hire on 07843 962 764 or visit their site

Insurance in uncertain times

In these uncertain times, insurance has never been more important. Suddenly we’re not sure what the future holds so we are confronted with a feeling of ‘what if?’ For example, many of us have contemplated our health and have therefore looked again at our health, and income insurance to help protect our families. Many of us are now also working from home so our home insurance is something we may need to revisit now we’re using our homes differently. Here in the UK, we’ve always been a nation of animal lovers, but the pandemic has seen an unprecedented increase in pet ownership now we have more time on our hands or to help with loneliness.

Cedegim Insurance Solutions is a company that provides insurance companies, mutual funds, contingency funds and brokers with software packages and services covering the entire healthcare value chain such as development of back office software, digital solutions for illness prevention, facilities management, delegated authority, healthcare flow assembly and third-party payment operator. They provide a claims management system used by many leading insurance companies

The basic premise of insurance is that we buy it before we need it. Then, if the worst does happen, we hopefully won’t be left with too much financial hardship. Insurance allows you to transfer risk to an insurance company. It’s said that insurance is one of the only things we buy in life hoping that we’ll never use. Some of the most common types of insurance that we buy are:

Health insurance

There are many types of health insurance from basic dental insurance to catastrophic health plans and everything in between. If the worst does happen, you can better guarantee fast treatment. This type of insurance is provided or subsidised by many employers and covers medical costs associated with illness

Disability insurance

This type of insurance is meant to replace your income if something happens that means you can’t work. There are different types of disability insurance covering long-term and short-term disability and will typically replace a portion of your income if you’re unable to work

Life insurance

Life insurance pays out what is called a death benefit to a designated beneficiary if you die. You can name an individual, a companies, or a trust as the beneficiary. Alternatively, having more than one beneficiary allows 2 or more people to split your death benefit according to your instructions should you die.

Pet insurance

If your pet becomes ill, the treatment costs can sometimes spiral – especially if your pet turns out to have a long-term health problem. Pet insurance policies can cover everything from costs associated with finding them if they get lost to life-long cancer treatment.


Weaving harnesses to clothes pegs, smart cards to plaster dowels

Back in my old engineering days I spent a lot of time in factories – usually having a guided tour. Even though I was there to sell something, the factory manager would invariably be very proud of his or her production facility and enjoy showing someone around. I enjoy learning about machines so was a willing participant (besides the fact that it also got me out of having to so actual work!) Back in those days I was selling industrial knives abroad so was looking around factories such as Tayto in Ireland Bosal in Belgium, but the one thing all of these factories had in common was they had a production line with machines using knives.

assembly machines

One of my favourite factories I visited in my engineering time was a newspaper production facility just outside Dublin. Seeing the newspapers flying along above your head was incredible and learning about the machines was fascinating. I also had no idea before about how abrasive paper can be – the cropping knives need to be replaced very regularly! In more recent times, one of my favourite factories I’ve visited has been a brewery bottling facility. Getting your favourite bitter into a can or bottle really isn’t a straightforward as you’d imagine, however, some would argue that no matter the complexity, it’s still worth it!

It’s amazing to think that a lot of the machines you’ll find in a modern factory may not exist anywhere else in the same form. They’re not something that you choose from a catalogue or pick off a shelf. Yes, many are similar but many special purpose machines are actually a bespoke assembly machine that are made to order to do a certain task based on the individual requirements of each factory. And there are some very specialist companies producing these machine too for example, producing assemble machines to make screws for earrings, irrigation drippers, for weaving harnesses, for clothes pegs, for breathalysers, gas lighter valves, smart cards, keys and locks, and plaster dowels. Next time you enjoy your packet of Walkers, think of the amount of work that have gone into the machines that made them for you

The world of ultra-sound machines

You learn something new every day in my line of work and today was no exception. We’re all no doubt familiar with ultrasound machines (no jokes about Mancunians, please!) as they’re a common feature in any modern hospital, used primarily as a very quick way to look inside the human body in real-time.

The potential for ultrasonic imaging was first recorded as being recognized by Sokolov in 1939, but techniques of the time produced relatively low-contrast images with poor sensitivity. Ultrasonic imaging, on the other hand, uses frequencies of 2 megahertz and higher meaning the shorter wavelength allows resolution of smaller internal details in tissues.

Ultrasound machines use sound waves with frequencies higher than the upper audible limit of human hearing. According to Wikipedia, “ultrasound is not different from ’normal’ (or audible) sound in its physical properties, except that humans cannot hear it. This limit varies from person to person and is approximately 20 kilohertz (20,000 hertz) in healthy young adults. Ultrasound devices operate with frequencies from 20 kHz up to several gigahertz. Ultrasound is used in many different fields. Ultrasonic devices are used to detect objects and measure distances. Ultrasound imaging or sonography is often used in medicine. In the non-destructive testing of products and structures, ultrasound is used to detect invisible flaws. Industrially, ultrasound is used for cleaning, mixing, and accelerating chemical processes. Animals such as bats and porpoises use ultrasound for locating prey and obstacles. Scientists are also studying ultrasound using graphene diaphragms as a method of communication.

If you own or use a modern medical ultra-sound machine it’s likely that it’ll breakdown at some point or other and you’ll need to get it repaired. For such complex and valuable machines, the probes repair obviously needs to be carried out by experts – one of which is a company called PRS which is based in Lyon, France (a beautiful city I’m very familiar with) who specialise in GE Ultrasound repair

The London floods of 2000

My biggest experience with industrial dehumidifiers was in late 2000 when London was hit by very heavy rain that caused a lot of very serious flooding across many parts of the capital. At the time, according to the report by the Greater London Assembly, as many as 50% of people living in flood-prone areas were oblivious to the risk of flooding so it took many by surprise. Add to this the fact that many homes had been built on the Thames flood planes and the number of cellar and basement conversions in areas where real estate is very valuable, and you can imagine the wide-scale disruption it caused many Londoners – both businesses and domestic properties alike.

At the time I was involved with a company that, among other things, they rented out dehumidifiers and other equipment used for drying out properties and buildings. Normally used for things like drying plaster or decorating, there was suddenly a massive demand for these machines once the waters had subsided and people were able to see the damage that had been caused.

Dehumidifiers are able to reduce the humidity in a room by removing excess moisture from the air. The moist air is drawn into the dehumidifier by the fan which then crosses over the dehumidifier’s refrigerant cooled coils, causing the moisture in the air to condense on the coils within the machine – in a similar way to how moisture forms on the outside of a cold drink on a hot day

Dehumidifiers are important not just in the home where they’re often used to remove moisture from the air to tackle damp and mould, but they’re also very important in the workplace. Too much humidity, or simply excessive variation in levels of humidity, can cause big problems in industries as diverse as the agri-food & food processing sectors; industrial bakeries & pastries; the pharmaceutical industry; and the chemicals industry – not to mention all companies involved in the process of seed storage. This is where the industrial dehumidifier comes into the picture by allowing you to remove moisture industrial (i.e. industrially). Without them, many of the foods and chemicals we use on a daily basis would be much more expensive or even not able to be produced in the first place.

Things you didn’t know you didn’t know part 312 – ceramic grinding beads

Many industries, such as the paint industries and mining, have requirements to grind materials up into fine powders, and one of the ways to do this is with ceramic grinding beads. For example, these beads are used in mining, ground calcium carbonate, silica, white cement, other minerals, ceramics, chemical products and abrasives.

There are several different types of media available for grinding materials into a uniform and similar size, such as is required in paint pigments and powders for homogenizing samples. These include both grinding beads and grinding balls. The two are similar, however,  grinding beads are a pool of beads which are all within a certain size range and grinding balls are spherical, precision ground to a specific diameter and uniform. These can be made out of many different materials including zirconium silicate or silica (soda lime), They are also available in a variety of sizes and grades either by bulk bottles or dispensed via disruption tubes.

Here are some examples of options. Acid Washed grinding beads (cleaned with acid to remove any small particles and contaminants before being dried then oven baked (yum!) Low Binding grinding beads – these are not only also acid washed but also undergo additional processes that reduces the amount of non-specific binding to their surface. Molecular Biology Grade grinding beads are processed as the previous grades but to higher standards also removing any unwanted impurities. And coated Silica grinding beads which are modified (for example, by the addition amine, sulfhydryl, C3, or C8). High quality grinding beads can help minimize the contamination of the raw materials and provide a stable process over time. More examples of industries they’re used in are mining, ground calcium carbonate, silica, white cement, other minerals, ceramics, chemical products and abrasives.

The energy sector in the post-Covid-19 world

Here in the UK, wherever you live, it’s not possible to have failed to have noticed how things have changed over the past few weeks with the government-dictated lock-down. We’ve certainly known about Covid-19 for quite a bit longer than that, however, not many of can have foreseen the country-wide restrictions on movement we’re experiencing at the moment. To slow the spread of the disease (which is a very different thing to ‘stopping’ or ‘beating’ it), we’re now being asked to travel as little as possible – both for work and leisure. The devastating effect this disease has had on some families and communities around the world is heart-breaking, and at the time of writing, it’s not looking like this pandemic is going to simply ‘go away’ any time soon, however, another of the modern ‘silent killers’ has, at the same time, become much less of a problem. I’m talking about air pollution!

Looking at the worldwide figures on air pollution, which are backed up with satellite images and government statistics, the reduction of air pollution has been staggering! Skies are clear of vapour trails now most commercial airlines aren’t flying, many roads are quiet, and a lot of factories are now silent. For anyone suffering from any kind of respiratory illness, this ‘silver lining’ to the current pandemic is at-least some good news! For the rest of us, we can see nature returning to cities and the skies are clearer again. However, will this change last? Or will everything go back to how it was at some point in the future? My best guess is that what we’ve experienced is a real and long-term change.

Many of us have had the experience of working from home – of the extra time we have in the day as we’re not commuting and the better standard of life we will have a result of that. We’re not eating out as much and we’re certainly not using our cars like we used to. Besides all the time and money we’re saving, we’re also reducing waste as the cups and packaging we would normally have been responsible for has also reduced massively.

What many people won’t have seen, however, is the price of fuel at the pumps has dropped dramatically too. A big important impact of the Coronavirus outbreak has been on the downstream oil industry meaning that that the price of crude oil has fallen significantly in a short time.

This has and, certainly for the foreseeable future, will continue to have an effect on oil producers. Billions has been lost from the stock prices of major oil and gas companies as demand has dropped. Production has also been affected in other ways as oil workers travel has been restricted, and infections from Coronavirus have been found on some oil rigs. Up until recently, and in recent years, many oil & gas companies have been looking towards more non-traditional methods areas of oil production such as deep-water offshore exploration. What is likely to happen to this new exploration it the future now? On the one hand, these unconventional resources are said to contain at least as much as the total conventional oil reserves extracted since the beginning of the oil industry, so the potential profits are there, if they can find someone to buy it of course. However, on the other hand, developing these new, large-scale sites comes with significant cost associated with R&D and the new technology required for extraction and a big investment in oil exploration safety. What happens if demand for oil never goes back to pre-Coronavirus levels? If, for example, many workers simply find they prefer working from home and continue to do this even when they have the choice to commute? This, in conjunction with things like the ongoing development of alternative forms of transport and the large-scale changes to government policies on things such as home heating may mean this is indeed the beginning of the end for the traditional oil industry as we knew it.