Friday, June 20, 2014

News: New £7m Rotherham facility for titanium castings

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Castings Technology International (CTI) in Rotherham, part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, is set to become the only place in the UK that can produce large scale titanium castings for the next generation of aircraft.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the AMRC is a world class centre for advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors. It acquired internationally renowned CTI and Titanium Castings (UK) Ltd, the subsidiary that manufactures castings from titanium alloys, last year.

Also based on the AMP, CTI is a member-based organisation with unrivalled capabilities in casting design, materials development and selection, specifications, manufacturing technologies, quality control, testing and performance.

A £7m government grant will fund a new facility at CTI that will allow companies within the aerospace industry to develop the capability to melt and manufacture precision castings in the UK instead of this work being carried out abroad. With up to 27,000 new planes needed between now and 2030, this represents a huge potential growth area for the UK.

The new CTI facility will be able to cast large structural parts with a poured weight of up to 1,000kg. CTI's current facility can make parts of 90kg poured weight.

Lighter than steel, titanium can withstand comparable loads better than aluminium, has minimal fatigue concerns, and is highly resistant to corrosion. Titanium use has been expanded on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to roughly 14 percent of the total airframe.

The Rolls-Royce wide chord fan blade is perhaps the best example of the application of titanium, coupled with advanced processing techniques, to give a significant service advantage.

By acting as a technology demonstrator for UK manufacturers, this investment will ensure that the UK's aerospace supply chain can develop new capabilities to produce large thin-walled titanium castings, and win a significant part of the growing global market for these components.

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, founder and executive dean of the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: "The 1,000kg titanium casting facility will be unique in Europe and will enable UK companies to explore the opportunities and benefits of making large, near-net shape complex castings."

The funding is part of the Aerospace Growth Partnership, which provides a single, national focus for technology research and facilities in the sector. £2 billion funding has been provided by government and industry to support the strategy with the creation of the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) at its heart.

Earlier this month it was announced that the AMRC and the University of Sheffield will join a number of partners to carry out research and development to reduce carbon emissions by using lightweight composite materials to make Rolls-Royce engines. Research will also focus on changing parts of the engine design to make engines more efficient and reducing the time it takes to manufacture them.

CTI website

Images: Rolls-Royce

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