Tuesday, August 13, 2013

News: World class design centre nears reality

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The latest development by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, the Design Prototype & Test Centre, is on track to open this autumn, offering a host of services to manufacturers in the energy sector.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the 2,700 sq m extension to an existing building will bring together design and prototyping with structural testing, key areas in the research of high-value manufacturing sectors such as aerospace, energy, motorsport and medical technology.

More than doubling the size of the original building that opened in 2004, the centre has secured funding from the European Regional Development Fund and High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

The AMRC is a world-class centre for innovative research and focuses on advanced machining and materials research. All research is led by industrial partners, ensuring that work provides lasting value. The Nuclear AMRC provides a focal point for the bulk of the UK civil nuclear manufacturing industry supply chain.

The AMRC's Advanced Structural Testing Centre (ASTC) provide means, methods and skills to validate engineering materials, components, assemblies and full products.

Certification and product validation are critical to the adoption of new manufacturing methods and technologies. One high profile project was the testing of lugs, actuator rods and braces in innovative landing gear systems, as part of a large collaborative research programme led by Airbus.

New resources include a 10m x 10m strong floor, which will significantly expand the centre's abilities to test large and high-load components or assemblies by allowing the creation of bespoke reaction frame rigs.

Four new high-power actuators, for applying loads during the testing of structures, will also be installed, providing the capability to achieve 800 tonnes of tensile/compression loading.

Phil Spiers, head of the Advanced Structural Testing Centre (ASTC), said: "This is an increase in capability that allows us to start testing large complex nuclear components. It takes us to the extreme end of aerospace and the low end of nuclear, and into other areas like oil and gas pipelines.

"We are positioning ourselves to meet the requirements of nuclear. As the requirements come in, we will tool ourselves up to meet that in terms of load and test type."

The new facilities will also provide the Design & Prototyping Group, that has over 40 highly qualified design engineers, with a large prototyping workshop offering a range of flexible machining and 3D printing equipment. The team is currently supporting Nuclear AMRC researchers on various projects, such as designing and producing bespoke fixturing for machining research.

The next development for the AMRC is Factory 2050, the £43m state-of-the-art research factory to meet the future needs of aerospace and other high-value manufacturing industries.

AMRC website

Images: AMRC

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