Institution of Mechanical Engineers Fellow Stefan Karp’s revolutionary roller chain has made it to the final of the Government’s Make it in Great Britain Challenge‚ which aims to find the UK next big pre-market products, processes and concepts. Business Secretary Vince Cable and Mark Prisk launched the Make it in Great Britain campaign in November 2011 to challenge outdated perceptions and transform the image of modern manufacturing.

Stefan Karp, a former mechanical engineering lecturer at Brunel University from Rushden in Northamptonshire, has invented a new type of roller chain made from polymers rather than metal. This roller chain, which could replace roller chains seen in bicycles, printing presses and cars, needs no lubrication, is corrosion-free, self-aligning and can even be used under water.

Karp said, ‘It is hugely exciting to be one of the finalists in this competition and I am looking forward to seeing the range of ways this roller chain will be put into use. I originally designed it to be used in bicycles, due to it being oil-free and light; it is particularly suitable for children’s bicycles. However there are a range of possibilities for this product, it could improve the reliability and versatility of machinery as varied as photocopiers, cars, bottling plants and even pharmaceutical machinery.’

The roller chain is a finalist in the Make it Stronger category. There are five categories in total: Make it Stronger, Make it Smarter, Make it Sustainable, Make it Life Changing and Make it Breakthrough (which is for 16-21 year old entrants only).

The winner of the competition will be announced in September.