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Engineering the future – from sustainable fishing to 3D-printing titanium hips

10 December 2021

Bringing new design concepts to life – from fishing trawl gear to titanium hip implants - is what inspires University of Canterbury graduate Stefano Barfucci.


He has already found work as a Development Engineer with Christchurch-based company Ossis, soon after finishing his Master of Mechanical Engineering Degree.

Ossis is a company that designs and develops printed titanium hip implants for very compromised patients who have suffered failed implants or need their pelvis rebuilt following cancer.

“It is really rewarding to work in a position where I am helping someone to walk again or to improve their quality of life,” Stefano says. “Also, to be working for a Christchurch company that is pushing the boundaries of what is possible with technology.”

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 - Quality Education

While a student at the University of Canterbury (UC) Stefano worked on a NIWA-led project aimed at developing new generation sustainable trawl gear, which explored innovative ways to allow undersized juvenile fish to escape directly from the trawl net.

The most promising concept was inspired by a cage system devised by Napier fisher Karl Warr. Stefano further refined that system to develop a practical lightweight prototype that can be fitted to traditional mesh netting. It uses flexible panels with rigid openings, sized so smaller fish can swim out. In tests off Napier’s coastline, the prototype showed promise in being able to release juvenile gurnard.

He created different designs using 3D printing and laser cutting equipment at the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and tested them in a ‘flume tank’ that simulates ocean conditions.

“At UC I was able to conceive, manufacture and test a product out in the open ocean – an experience I really enjoyed. I learnt from this that I always want to be working in a position where I can bring concepts to life through engineering,” he says.

Stefano’s interest in sustainable engineering was inspired by joining the Canterbury University Snow Sports Club and the time he spent at the lodge in Temple Basin that is cared for and maintained by the students.

“I made countless friends there, many of whom were researching subjects centred around the environment and sustainability at UC. I think being around these people drove me towards choosing a master's project with a focus on preservation of our ocean ecosystems.”

He says studying Engineering at the University of Canterbury has taught him the fundamentals of creating engineering products. “I've learnt skills that allow me to join companies designing hydro power stations, jet engines, mountain bike parts, prosthetics, and rocket ships.”

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