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ASTUTE 2020 Update September 2020

Here at ASTUTE 2020, we can support your business throughout this period of uncertainty. Our world-class academics and technical experts from across our strong Welsh Universities partnership are available to support you through research and innovation activities. If you wish to discuss opportunities for working with us e.g. to modify your production to develop solutions to support the fight against COVID-19, you can contact us via email.


Magnetism to Raise the Pulse - How magnets are being used for the treatment of chronic heart failure

Magnetism to Raise the Pulse - How magnets are being used for the treatment of chronic heart failure


The annual ‘Swansea Science Festival’ hosted by Swansea University took place on the weekend of the 3rd – 4th November.

The largest festival of its kind in Wales, the family-friendly event held at the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea attracted 6,000 visitors to an array of interactive exhibits and workshops, all focused on the world of science.

The festival was suitable for the whole family and aims to boost children’s enthusiasm towards STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine) subjects. The team successfully developed an interactive exhibit that children would be fascinated by and that also links to ASTUTE 2020’s current research with local industry.

After months of preparation, our stand idea was finalised and set up on the weekend of the 3rd November. ASTUTE 2020’s stand focused on and demonstrated ‘Magnetism to raise the pulse’, the use of magnetism within medical devices and the explanation of how magnets are used with everyday objects.

The theme was developed from one of our industry-academia research collaborations with Calon Cardio-Technology Ltd., a Swansea based company who are developing the next generation of implantable blood pumps, the MiniVAD™.

ASTUTE 2020 printed a 3D Model of a failed heart from an assembly of MRI scans and a replica of Calon’s MiniVAD™ early prototype using additive manufacturing. This allowed us to demonstrate where the MinVAD™ is inserted into the heart (left ventricle) and how the blood pump assists the weakened heart to pump sufficient blood to the body.

Within Calon’s MiniVAD™ there is no mechanical contact between rotating and non-rotating parts. Magnetic levitation is used inside the pump to eliminate friction and, as a result, reduce heat generation thus reducing the risk of blood damage and thrombus formation. We displayed magnetic levitation with the use of a pencil and magnets from speakers. With the levitating pencil, the magnetic field from the magnets attached to the pencil are set to oppose the magnetic field created by the speaker magnets, so the pencil “sits” on the magnetic field.

Computational Fluid Dynamics and additive layer manufacturing expertise were presented to demonstrate the wide variety of manufacturing challenges that are being supported within ASTUTE 2020.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) method was used to model the complex flow of blood inside the pump. This allowed for predicting many flow related quantities such as the pump efficiency, blood damage and flow curves. The results of the CFD simulations enabled the engineers at Calon to optimise the pump design to meet their goals of a quiet, small, ergonomic, reliable, cost-effective and blood-friendly pump. In the near future the MiniVAD™ will transform the life of advanced heart failure patients for the better.

We displayed multiple examples that demonstrated uses of magnets, including a type of projectile accelerator – the Gauss gun. The core of a Gauss gun consists of a magnet with several steel balls attracted to it. When another, single steel ball rolls towards the magnet, the attractive force from the magnet accelerates the ball. The closer the ball gets to the magnet, the stronger this acceleration force becomes. When the impact occurs, the momentum is transferred to the ball on the opposite end, giving it a speed that is almost the same velocity as the first magnet, right at the moment before impact. ASTUTE 2020 had a multi-stage Gauss Gun using several stages in succession to achieve faster speeds.

Children were fascinated by the use of magnets and the different applications that can use them; whilst the ASTUTE 2020 team enjoyed demonstrating and involving the children in different areas of STEMM, which are highly relevant to ASTUTE 2020.

Demand-led by industry, ASTUTE 2020 is working together with the manufacturing industry across Wales to embed advanced and sustainable technologies.

ASTUTE 2020 can support manufacturing companies across a variety of sectors, such as aerospace, automotive, energy generation, oil and gas, medical devices, electronics, foods, etc., stimulating growth by applying advanced engineering technologies to manufacturing challenges driving cutting-edge research and innovation. ASTUTE 2020 collaborations inspire manufacturing companies to improve and streamline their manufacturing processes, manufactured products and supply chain, generating sustainable, higher value goods and services and bringing them to a global market.

The ASTUTE 2020 operation has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and the participating Higher Education Institutions.