In October 2021, Lorenzo Cutts, a student at the University of Nottingham, embarked upon an engineering placement at Far-UK Ltd. The year-long placement forms part of his four-year Masters of Engineering degree in Product Design and Manufacture.
“First things first, are you enjoying your placement at Far-UK?
Phew! We’re very glad you chose Far-UK for your placement, why did you pick this company?
So, it comes from my hobby - I am a canoe slalomist. When I went to university, I wanted to potentially do product design within sports, and a lot of these products are made from composites-based materials. So, the placement at Far seemed like a really good way to get more hands-on experience (with these materials), to learn how they are used in the real world and to be able to take that on into a career.
What kind of projects have you been working on so far?
So far, the main project I have been working on is the design and production of a three-wheeled electric vehicle. It’s been really interesting, and it’s occupied most of my time.
What role did you play in this project?
My main role has been taking existing components and creating a CAD model for each one. They can then be put into the full DMU (digital mock-up) which allows us to see the space envelope that the component takes up within the vehicle, this helps with the vehicle assembly. I’ve also helped as part of the team on all the stages of vehicle build, from laminating, to trimming, to the drilling and assembly.
Have you worked on other projects too?
Yes, one that I worked on is for the design of a vehicle component which is to be made with more bio-diverse composite materials. I used my 3D printing knowledge for that to make a complex-shaped structure that forms part of the component.
Was there anything you struggled with and how did you overcome it?
I’ve done a lot of new things here, so at first they are all new challenges. I like to think I am a quick learner though, so by being able to take part and getting stuck into each challenge I have been able to overcome them.
What skills have you learnt since you have been here?
One of the biggest skills I’ve learnt is how to use one of the specialist CAD programmes that Far uses. I’ve used various CAD software packages at Uni but working solidly with this one has meant I’ve learnt how to get the most use out of it. Hardware-wise, I’ve learnt how to use a 3D scanner to make CAD models from an existing component, I’ve learnt how to use the CNC machine with a router too.
So, if you did go into sports product design, do you think the skills you’ve learnt here would help you?
I do, because so many products in that industry are made with composites. The knowledge I’ve gained could lead to the development of new processes and exciting new products. That would mean better equipment and a more sustainable future for the sports industry.
Have you been able to use your degree learning at Far?
Yes definitely. I think that with my product design knowledge I have been able to input a different viewpoint. For example, I gained a lot of experience 3D printing at Uni, and I have used that to bring a new way to incorporate 3D printing and scanning application that is useful to Far. I have even gone on to train people in this technique!
What’s the most important thing you have learnt on your placement so far?
I think it’s how projects are different in a work environment. At Uni, the timescales for projects are all set, they are all similar lengths of time. I’ve learnt that in the real world, deadlines can be tight, and sometimes need to be cut or extended – things can change.
Has your work placement at Far influenced what you will do in the future?
I think it definitely has. I’m interested in working with composites, whether that’s in sports or something else. Far has shown me that there are a lot more possibilities and applications (to working with these materials).
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lorenzo!”
Far-UK Ltd provides lightweighting solutions to engineering challenges with demanding performance specifications. We add innovation to the development process by combining cutting-edge design techniques with expertise in composites and multi-material manufacturing. We create practical and affordable manufacturing solutions for applications ranging from components to full vehicle design.