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Schoolchildren ‘all ears’ during visit to University of Bradford lab


3D printed objects on a table, including a heart and ears

Schoolchildren were ‘all ears’ during a tour of engineering labs at the University of Bradford as part of Bradford Manufacturing Week. 

Pupils from Carlton Bolling Academy, Immanuel College and South Craven School were given a tour of laboratories in the university's Faculty of Engineering and Informatics, during which they were given a number of demonstrations, including a 3D printer used to create realistic prototype ears, knee joints and hearts from a bio-polymer.

Schoolchildren visit university as part of Bradford Manufacturing Week

Above: Schoolchildren visit science labs at University of Bradford

Reader in Mechanical & Process Engineering Elaine Brown said: “When you first woke you probably reached for your phone, put together by a range of specialist manufacturers. Maybe you ate breakfast cereal, used shower gel and toothpaste, and travelled somewhere safely by a vehicle manufactured from many components? Who manufactured the clothes you are wearing, the technology you are using, the medicines, medical devices, packaging and components of all that makes our lives run smoothly? 

“At the University of Bradford we are experts in many aspects of manufacturing and during tours of our teaching and research workshops and laboratories, schoolchildren get a chance to learn about processing and manufacturing of polymer, metal, ceramic and composite materials.”

She added: "I am keen to increase the awareness and visibility of engineering and manufacturing. When thinking about their careers, there are few opportunities for young people to learn about engineering and to understand the importance of manufacturing in our lives, and the strengths in our region. Bradford Manufacturing Week provides a great chance to gain insight into the exciting and varied careers in this sector.

“We hope their visit to the University, and the chance to meet our engineers and see the huge variety of expertise and projects we work on will fuel their enthusiasm to study and work as engineers.”

A 3D printer printing an ear

Above: 3D printer printing a human ear

The 3D printed ears were part of a project being conducted by a PhD student to test out materials other than plastic that might be more suitable for the human body - they used poly-lactic-acid - a plant-based polymer which is biodegradable - to print very complex shapes, such as the human ear, in about 30 minutes.

Dr Mansour Youseffi, Reader in Biomaterials, said: “Manufacturing is at the heart of many engineering activities. Understanding different raw materials, their properties, how they can be shaped, processed and fitted together - ultimately to be turned into products that we all need and use - is fundamental to engineers, who are responsible for sustainably providing society with a vast range of manufactured goods."

An academic sets up a 3D printer

Above: a scientist prepares a 3D printer

About Bradford Manufacturing Weeks

Launched by Bradford Chamber of Commerce and co-ordinated by career specialists The Opportunity Centre, Bradford Manufacturing Weeks brings manufacturers, schools and young people together through tours, work experience, seminars, exhibitions and learning events held at manufacturer premises and key locations across the district.

Endorsed by Bradford Council, Bradford Economic Partnership, and Bradford University, this not-for-profit event relies on the generosity of key sponsors and supporters.