Research Interests

I am lecturer in the School of Product Design teaching Material Science for Product Design.
My research interests include the development and 3D printing of biological and bio-based materials with a recent focus on hydrogels for separation processes and tissue scaffolding.
I am also interested in natural fibre reinforced plastics, especially bioplastics, with a strong focus on all-cellulose composites.
I have a background bio-inspired design and biomimetics using nature as inspiration for engineering solutions and am interested in exploring this area of research further.
My latest research interest is about the use of indigenous and native materials in product design and resulting material and product perception and resulting value associations.

Recent Publications

  • Feast S., Fee C., Huber T. and Clarke D. (2021) Printed monolith adsorption as an alternative to expanded bed adsorption for purifying M13 bacteriophage. Journal of Chromatography A 1652 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chroma.2021.462365.
  • Moleirinho MG., Feast S., Moreira AS., Silva RJS., Alves PM., Carrondo MJT., Huber T., Fee C. and Peixoto C. (2021) 3D-printed ordered bed structures for chromatographic purification of enveloped and non-enveloped viral particles. Separation and Purification Technology 254 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seppur.2020.117681.
  • Zadeh HN., Bowles D., Huber T. and Clucas D. (2021) A novel additive manufacturing method of cellulose gel. Materials 14(22) http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ma14226988.
  • Huber T., Zadeh HN., Feast S., Roughan T. and Fee C. (2020) 3D printing of gelled and cross-linked cellulose solutions, an exploration of printing parameters and gel behaviour. Bioengineering 7(2) http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/bioengineering7020030.
  • Müssig J., Clark A., Hoermann S., Loporcaro G., Loporcaro C. and Huber T. (2020) Imparting materials science knowledge in the field of the crystal structure of metals in times of online teaching: A novel online laboratory teaching concept with an augmented reality application. Journal of Chemical Education 97(9): 2643-2650. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.0c00763.

* this bio is from the 2019 School of Product Design marketing brochure.


A lecturer at the School of Product Design| Te Kura Hanga Otinga, Dr Tim Huber’s interest is in bio-based sustainable materials and 3D printing – and ideally combining the two. He is also interested in bio-inspired design and engineering.

Originally from Germany, Tim came to University of Canterbury Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha (UC) in 2009 to undertake a PhD in the processing of bio-based composite materials, essentially aiming to replace commonly used glass fibre and reinforced plastics with a more natural, sustainable choice.

After a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre at Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, he returned to UC to undertake a project at UC in 3D printing and bio-polymers.

In 2017 Tim was offered a full-time lecturing role at the newly formed School of Product Design.

“3D printing is interesting because it is such a novel, revolutionary way of making things and it’s so challenging wrapping your head around this completely new way of creating. We’ve been trained as engineers to take a subtractive approach to everything. However, with additive manufacturing you have to develop a new way of thinking about how you make things and what is possible.”

The role of sustainable materials and bio-inspired design is based around the idea of looking for engineering solutions in nature, as well as developing solutions to minimise environmental impact.

“Evolution is very hard-working, creating solutions for very specific problems with very limited resources. It’s interesting if you can make that work – but you can’t look to nature for inspiration if there’s no more nature left. That’s where sustainable materials come in. While lightweight composites are useful, they are terrible for recycling, re-using or even putting into landfill. So finding a substitute that works is one of the big challenges of this century.”

Tim really enjoys the teaching part of his role, drawing on his significant research in bio-inspired engineering and bio-based materials that students find relatable.

“The whole idea of sustainable material selection and how to design a product to be environmentally friendly or sustainable – or both, as they are not exactly the same thing – is something that students really enjoy talking about. They are keen to solve this problem, but don’t know how, so I really enjoy guiding them to make smart design choices.

“I am also supervising a PhD student who is creating a new type of 3D printer and we’re looking at patenting that technology. It’s very rewarding when we are able to help students realise their individual research projects.”

With much of Tim’s research exploring new technologies and ideas, the open, collaborative nature of the School of Product Design is the ideal environment for his pioneering research.

“People at UC are so interested in new developments and open to new ideas, which is holding true for all the time I have spent here. People are willing to take it on and run with it, with a real willingness to help make things work.

Another collaboration is his new project with an ecologist from Landcare on divaricating shrubs. In particular he is interested in understanding the micro-structure and mechanical properties of the plant, how this is as used as protection against the harsh climate and how this can be used as an inspiration for product design.

He is also working on a project that looks at material selection, based around Māori culture. This involves working with a kaiarahi (advisor) to investigate the use of traditional Māori materials in a non-traditional context, while still keeping the meaning alive through storytelling. The long-term goal is to create a Māori material library for product design – the first of its kind in New Zealand.