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A high street litter bin that sorts waste and a device to help deaf musicians feel the beat are just two of the latest ideas by Cambridge University students hoping to bring new products to market.

The ideas went on display, along with eight more prototypes, at the Design Show run by the University’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) this week.

The annual showcase, sponsored this year by multi-award winning manufacturing organisation, Shearline (, is a chance for the best undergraduate manufacturing engineers to show off their ideas to local inventors, industrialists and designers, looking to spot the next big thing.

This year’s products range from a mosquito trap designed for use in rural India and a new design for a laboratory pipette, to a professional cocktail making machine to help bartenders meet rush hour demand.

One group of students has developed Rhythmijig, an aid for deaf musicians and young children that transmits a live beat as a tactile stimulus to the performer. The beat is input using a foot pedal by one of the musicians and transmitted via a series of wearable receivers to each member of the group.

Keen to improve recycling levels, a team of students devised the Intelli-Bin, an ‘intelligent’ high street litter bin that automatically separates aluminium and steel cans and discards wrongly inserted items into the general waste compartment. This allows cans to be transported directly to metal recycling plants, avoiding the need to send them to a special recovery plant and thus reducing transport costs and environmental impact.

Another bright idea on display was a mosquito trap designed for use in the developing world, using locally available materials to minimise cost. Made of discarded plastic bottles filled with pebbles and a mixture of yeast and sugar, the trap attracts human biting mosquitoes.

The geometry of the trap is such that once inside the mosquitoes cannot escape. The students have also designed an injection moulded model for the Western market, sales from which could subsidise the trap for the developing world.

Other products on display at the Design Show included:

Deli’tail - a fast and robust cocktail machine for the professional bar tender to meet rush hour demand.
Automated iron - technology that offers an automatic means to remove creases from clothing, including shirts and trousers.
PR-Radio – a novel, ear-mounted promotional FM radio for use at major events.
HeatSave – a shower tray for saving energy and money that uses an integrated heat exchanger to recover energy from waste water.
French plaiting - a device to simplify the difficult task of French plaiting.
Portable Clean Air – a transportable device producing a column of clean air for use in field surgery.

Each project for the show is produced over the course of a year by teams of three or four manufacturing engineering students. The participants have to research the market and devise a full business plan, the only limit on their ambition being that whatever they produce has to be an original idea that meets a genuine customer need.

Lecturer Dr James Moultrie said: “The projects require both engineering and industrial design skills. The students not only have to come up with novel ideas, they also have to consider the commercial and marketing aspects of their designs. They also learn a great deal from having to produce models and prototypes of their products.”

As sponsor of this year’s event, manufacturing organisation, Shearline, will be awarding the Shearline Manufacturability Award to the group which is thought to have given the best consideration to design-for-production issues.

Judging is currently taking place and the winning team will be presented with a trophy and a cash prize for each team member.

- Ends -

Notes to editors:

Photos of the product designs are available. Students are available for interview.

For all press enquiries, please contact: Damion Clark, Shearline Press Office.
Tel: +44 (0) 1954 231 911 Email:

For further information about Shearline, please contact:
Kevin Gouldthorp, Finance Director and Company Secretary, Shearline.
Tel: +44 (0) 1353 668668 Email: or visit

For further information about the Institute for Manufacturing, please contact: Clare Gilmour, Marketing and Communications Manager, Institute For Manufacturing.
Tel: +44 (0) 1223 766141 Email: or visit

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