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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

TWI Ltd

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

TWI is the world leader in materials joining technology and has a strong tradition of innovation and its application to practical situations. We are as interested in surface preparation and modification prior to joining as we are in the joining process itself.

TWI is active in the development of a wide range of electron beam processes. Surfi-Sculpt arose from our work on electron beam texturing of surfaces when the inventor, Bruce Dance, noticed that as an electron beam is moved across a surface a small amount of molten material can be displaced. By devising precise movements of the electron beam, and repeating these at many sites over the surface, features could be produced. Protrusions of 2mm height or more were built by successive but rapid beam deflection. In a few seconds wide areas could be treated forming predictable patterns of thousands of protrusions and cavities. TWI is patenting the Surfi-Sculpt idea.

Surfi-Sculpt has immediate use in dissimilar material joints, enabling improved joints to be developed between fibre reinforced composites and metal, for example. Surfi-Sculpt is seen as having far wider application, medical implants with better bone adhesion, novel joining of electronic components, heatsinks, improved fluid dynamics and specific chemical functionalities are just some of the possibilities.

It is this ability to both invent, and within a short time develop the invention into practical solutions for products that marks TWI as different.