Cookies on our website
Our website uses cookies to ensure that we give you the best user experience.
By continuing to browse our website, you are agreeing to the use of cookies.

More Information

Bristol researcher strikes gold with chewing robot

Bristol researcher strikes gold with chewing robot

The development of new materials, components and technologies is becoming ever more important for industry. Zwick Roell recognises the significant contribution made by universities and other academic institutes and rewards young researchers for outstanding scientific work in which the use of materials testing machines plays a major part.

The UK spends around £2.5 billion each year on dental materials to replace or strengthen teeth.  Dental elements, such as crowns and bridges, are made from well-known metals, polymers and ceramics but their dental wear properties are often poorly understood. Clinical trials examining the wear of human teeth are expensive and time-consuming and by the time a new material has been tested it is often obsolete.

Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed a chewing robot to study dental wear formation on human teeth. The robot is based on a three-dimensional mechanism with six linear actuators that reproduce the motion and forces sustained by teeth within a human mouth. It provides a biologically inspired way to test dental materials, enabling the study of tooth wear to be carried out in a controlled laboratory environment.

The design and development of the chewing robot was carried out by Daniel Raabe, a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol and as a result of his work, Daniel has won first prize in the Zwick Science Award, a global competition run by the Zwick Roell, which has acknowledged the outstanding merit of his research. Dr Raabe was invited to the University of Aachen in Germany to receive his award which included a prize of €5000 and a gold Paul Roell Medal.

Dr Raabe said that he was delighted to win the award which recognised his work in designing and developing a chewing robot to dramatically improve the process of developing and testing new dental materials.

Daniel said: “A human jaw is a powerful and complex piece of natural machinery, allowing a person to chew in many different ways.  The lower jaw and the teeth move with six degrees of freedom, translating and rotating along each of the Cartesian axes. By reproducing natural bite forces and movements, the chewing robot can help improve and accelerate the process of developing new dental restorative materials that may someday be found in a person’s mouth. The robot has the potential to dramatically improve the process of developing and testing new dental materials.”

Entries for the 2011 Zwick Science Award are invited once again and participation is conditional on the publication of a scientific paper within the last 5 years. First prize is €5000 and the winner will also receive the Paul Roell Medal. Second and third prizes are €2000 and €1000 respectively. The awards will be presented during the Zwick Academia Day, to be held at a German university in March 2012. The closing date is 1 November 2011 and entries should be submitted to Alan Thomas, Marketing Manager, Zwick Testing Machines Limited, Southern Avenue, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 0QH E: