Department of Engineering / Research / Strategic Themes / Manufacturing, Design and Materials

Department of Engineering

Manufacturing, Design and Materials

Manufacturing, Design and Materials

Strategic Aim: Transforming our engineered world by understanding the whole process from the fundamentals of understanding materials, through design, to manufacturing, and including service and reuse.


The process of making and shaping engineering materials, characterising their properties, fabricating components, assembling devices, delivering products and creating associated services has tremendous impacts in the world. The benefits of ever-improving products and services are fundamental to economic and social development; the issues of resource scarcity, environmental damage and social equity are less immediately obvious, but vital considerations for long-term sustainability. The first challenge is to gain a connected understanding of each step along the entire path from materials to manufacturing and services, so that short-term gains can be balanced with long-term consequences. The ultimate challenge is to use this understanding to crash the time and cost from lab bench to commercial production.


Engineering has world-leading strengths in research that links:

  • nanoscale modelling, production and characterisation of engineered materials
  • microscale fabrication of materials and devices
  • macroscale material and structural analysis of engineered components
  • product and service design
  • systems scale analysis and optimisation
  • manufacturing and supply chain management
  • sustainability analysis and decision making.

The ambition is to forge stronger connections between these research elements so that Cambridge Engineering not only continues to drive forward at each scale-length of materials and manufacturing engineering, but also generates revolutionary insights of how to optimise across all scale-lengths in the delivery of products and services for the benefit of current and future generations. In this ambition, Cambridge Engineering aims to develop a new science of scale up through partnership with industry in its laboratories and new dedicated facilities.


The team are currently developing a set of missions for this new theme, but they will build on a vast array of existing activities including the following significant groups, divisions and centres:

  • Electrical Engineering Division – pursuing fundamental electrical, electronic and photonic research at the material, device and system levels with a focus on creating integrated solutions in the fields of nanotechnology, sensing, energy generation, energy conversion, displays and communications.
  • Engineering Design Centre (EDC) - creating knowledge, understanding, methods and tools that will contribute to improving the design process
  • Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) – bringing together expertise in management, technology and policy to address the full spectrum of issues which can help industry and governments create sustainable economic growth
  • Micromechanics Group – predicting the macroscopic mechanical behaviour of materials from an understanding of microstructure.
  • Centre for Engineering Better Care (CEBC) - a cross disciplinary partnership which aims to develop ideas, conduct teaching and research between engineering, medicine and the healthcare industry, principally in the Cambridge area.