Monday, July 21, 2014

News: Further funding keeps AMRC at the heart of aerospace research

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The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in Rotherham has secured a significant slice of new funding to continue its research at the cutting edge of the aerospace sector.

Announced by the Deputy PM, Nick Clegg at the Farnborough International Airshow, government and industry will invest £154m to support Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) research and development projects on the next generation of quieter, faster and more environmentally friendly planes.

The AMRC is based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) and is a partnership between industry and academia focused on advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors. It is already heavily involved in three of the four cutting edge research programmes announced.

A £42m investment in research led by Airbus into designing, manufacturing and assembling the commercial aircraft "Wing of the Future," is one of the projects researchers from the AMRC are already heavily involved with. Manufacturer, Airbus joined the AMRC as a Tier One member last year having previously worked together on the Integrated Wing Project, a previous R&D project lead by Airbus.

A further £20m will go to a project led by Rolls-Royce to explore new ways of creating lighter, greener and more fuel-efficient aircraft engines, while £49m will go to a project led by GKN to create lighter aircraft structures – two further areas where the AMRC is involved.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "The UK's aerospace industry is going from strength to strength and helping our economic recovery. We are the number 1 aerospace industry in Europe and second only to the United States globally.

"I want to ensure the UK remains at the cutting edge of aerospace innovation, which is why I am pleased to announce that we are investing £154m for research to explore new technologies like the 3D printing of plane parts and creating lighter, greener aircraft.

"By working in partnership with business, we are building a stronger, more balanced economy, creating more jobs and sharing the wealth equally."

Prof Keith Ridgway CBE, executive dean at the AMRC, described the announcement as "a welcome confirmation of long-term funding, which will help to keep the UK at the forefront of the global aerospace sector and will also support the work of the AMRC."

Last month it was announced that Castings Technology International (CTI) in Rotherham, part of the AMRC, is set to become the only place in the UK that can produce large scale titanium castings for the next generation of aircraft. 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.

Factory 2050, the state of the art, £43m development from the AMRC that is set to be built over the Parkway on Sheffield Business Park, will be the UK's first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research, capable of rapidly switching production between different high-value components and one-off parts. Plans also incorporate an extension big enough for research into new, more efficient ways of constructing aircraft wings.

It was also announced that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can bid for a share of a £25m pot from October 2014. This funding competition is expected to stimulate projects worth £50m in total. Administered by the Technology Strategy Board, this will create jobs in the supply chain so local communities can benefit even further when big companies like Rolls-Royce and Airbus open factories in their region. Rolls-Royce recently began production at its new Advanced Blade Casting Facility (ABCF) in Rotherham.

AMRC website

Images: Rolls-Royce

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