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Four students from Cambridge University have won a commercial manufacturing award as part of the Manufacturing Engineering Trips programme, run by the University’s Institute for Manufacturing.

The ‘Shearline Manufacturability Award’ was presented by leading manufacturing organisation, Shearline, to a group of students who, as part of their design project, created a redesign of the precision pipette, one of the most commonly used laboratory instruments, to address ease of use and ergonomic issues.

While current laboratory pipettes satisfy the need for precision and reliability, their design falls short in terms of ease of use. They are entirely thumb-operated and are known to cause cases of repetitive strain injury. The students successfully designed a comfortable, easy to use pipette, the ‘Ergopip’, which distributes workload to the user’s fingers and is just as precise and reliable as existing versions.

The team received the Shearline award for making best consideration to design for production issues by creating a fully working mechanical model with well thought through product components and detailed engineering drawings, which could be put through to manufacturing production.

David Lonsdale, Shearline’s Sales and Marketing Manager, comments, “We were very impressed with the projects put forward by the students; it was clear that a lot of thought and consideration has gone into the commercial and marketing aspects of their designs.

“In terms of manufacturing production, the ‘Ergopip’ project, however, has real and immediate market potential. The fully working prototypes and detailed drawings for all of the system’s components were very impressive and could quickly be worked on and made ready for full scale manufacture.”

The ‘Ergopip’, along with eight other design prototypes, went on display at the Institute for Manufacturing’s Design Show in June. The annual showcase, sponsored this year by Shearline, was 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.

University Lecturer, Dr James Moultrie, said, “Each project for the design show is produced over the course of a year by teams of three or four manufacturing engineering students. The teams have to research the market, develop original design concepts and create a full business plan; the only limit on their ambition being that what ever they produce has to be an original idea that meets a genuine customer need.”

Cambridgeshire-based Shearline, which was established over 30 years ago and currently employs over 100 staff, is considered one of the few UK manufacturing companies that offers a complete manufacturing service. Every stage of production, from design for manufacture, prototyping and first batch production through to full scale manufacture and world-wide delivery is completed in-house at its combined 67,000 sq ft showcase facilities.

- Ends -

Notes to editors:

The ‘Ergopip’ project team: Jonathan Fraser, Mark Evans, Shu Sun and Rehana Khanam.

Photos are available on request.

For 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

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