Professor of Manufacturing Engineering
Professor Hutchings' main research interests are in the engineering of surfaces, tribology (the study of friction and wear) and the inkjet printing process.
"Surface Engineering involves modifying the properties of a surface to achieve particular performance; examples include coatings and surface patterning. You may want to reduce wear or friction, but there are also other reasons such as the aesthetic appearance, optical reflectivity, the 'feel' of the surface or even its biological response. By tailoring the surfaces of implants you can increase their biological compatibility."
He is interested in applications of surface engineering and tribology in a manufacturing context. "There are ways in which we can reduce the friction between surfaces without using a liquid lubricant: there are some interesting possibilities using ultrasonic vibration, for example". The study of industrial inkjet printing is a new research area, and builds on the strength of industries in the Cambridge area in this rapidly-growing technology. Inkjet printing can be used not only for graphical applications but also as a manufacturing process: specialised polymers can be deposited by printing to make low-cost light-emitting displays and semiconductor circuits.
A Fellow of St John's College, where he was Tutor to Engineering students for thirteen years, he also has links with local companies in his role as Chairman of St John's Innovation Centre Ltd. "This was the first Innovation Centre in the UK and has been extremely successful. The services provided to start-up companies are now used as a model by other similar ventures, and we are now often called upon for advice."
Professor Hutchings's first degree was in Physics, and he maintains links with the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at Cambridge, where he was based for more than twenty years after completing his PhD. He teaches materials processing and surface engineering in the Engineering and Manufacturing Engineering Triposes.