Thursday, October 31, 2013

News: Groundwork for giant new machines at Nuclear AMRC

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Work has begun to prepare the Nuclear AMRC workshop in Rotherham for its newest and largest machining centres. The two machines will be the biggest of their kind available for collaborative research anywhere in the world.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the Nuclear AMRC is a joint initiative between the University of Sheffield, The University of Manchester, and a consortium of industry partners. Part of the government's High Value Manufacturing Catapult, the centre helps to develop capability and competitiveness in the nuclear supply chain through process manufacturing innovation and R&D, driving up quality and reducing cost.

The building acts as a research factory for innovative and optimised processes in machining, welding and other key areas of large-scale manufacturing technology.

The new machines – a purpose-built vertical turning lathe from Dörries Scharmann, and a Soraluce FX12000 floor-type milling and boring centre – will be used to produce large representative-sized parts for the nuclear industry and other high-value sectors.

The vertical turning lathe (VTL) will be capable of working on parts of up to five metres diameter and over three metres height. It will offer full milling and deep drilling capabilities, and is designed for the largest high-value components for the nuclear industry, including full-scale reactor internal parts. It is also ideal for machining offshore wind turbine shafts and the largest jet engine fan casings. The VTL is funded by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, and is currently under construction at the Dörries factory in Germany.

The Soraluce will be capable of working on parts up to 12 metres in length and five metres diameter, and can complete five-sided machining of complex parts in a single set up.

It will be used to develop and demonstrate advanced manufacturing processes for large pressure vessels, high-value reactor internals and offshore wind turbine hubs.

Stuart Dawson, head of machining at the Nuclear AMRC, said: "The Soraluce and Dörries VTL are an absolutely unique capability for any research centre. No other research centre anywhere in the world has the physical size or research capability of these machines, as far as we're aware."

With careful planning and specialist contractors mean the workshop will be closed for just three weeks in November.

"It is a unique heavy engineering challenge," Dawson notes. "But we will be the only research centre in the world with these capabilities and, from summer 2014, these very large machines will be available to manufacturers for collaborative projects."

The Nuclear AMRC has also commissioned a Mazak Orbitec 20 machining centre that offers unique capabilities for making complex high-precision components for the energy and oil and gas industries.

The Nuclear AMRC is led by its industrial members. There are currently over 40 member companies, including reactor providers, manufacturers from along the supply chain, and providers of specialist equipment and services. Membership gives access to the workshop and generic projects and provides the opportunity to determine the research and support programmes. Members advise on the general direction of the research and the support provided.

Nuclear AMRC website

Images: Nuclear AMRC

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