Tuesday, June 23, 2015

News: AMRC awarded further aerospace research funding

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The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in Rotherham is to work on two new technology projects in the aerospace sector.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), the AMRC is a world-class centre for advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value sectors. The multimillion pound partnership between industry and academia has become a model for collaborative research centres worldwide and now boasts 75 partners, including Boeing and Rolls Royce.

The government has committed to creating 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.

The latest project will see the AMRC work with Spirit AeroSystems and Aeromet to research advanced automated assembly technologies – a factory of the future - to improve the cost competitiveness of the UK supply chain. Securing £6.4m, the ambitious project aims to have a fully functional automated production line demonstrator that reduces assembly cost and increases repeatable quality of major structural aerospace components.

Dan Caughran, vice president / GM - UK at Spirit AeroSystems, said: "This programme will provide a platform for innovation and an opportunity to completely rethink how industry manages the assembly process.

"Aerostructures Factory of the Future is strategically important in increasing the competitiveness of the UK operations. The programme will help keep our current product portfolio and win new business. Working together with this consortium and the ATI funding will give us the much needed assistance to achieve the important programme initiatives and increase technology capability within the UK."

The AMRC's Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future opened on the AMP in 2008 and includes workshop, laboratory, office and conference space. Its £43m Factory 2050, currently under construction on nearby 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.

As part of a £4.4m project to support UTC Aerospace Systems, the AMRC will work to set up production lines to manufacture high volume, low cost advanced composite products.

The composites centre on the AMP extends the AMRC's expertise in metals production into the new generation of carbon fibre composite materials. These composite materials are increasingly used in aerospace, marine, automotive and other high-value industries for their combination of light weight and high strength but they are often difficult to manufacture.

Business Minister Anna Soubry said: "Demand for new aircraft is at record levels - around 45,000 new aircraft and 40,000 helicopters are needed between now and 2032, worth over $5 trillion. This will provide billions of pounds of work to the UK economy given our leading capability in wings, engines, helicopters, advanced systems and services.

"Getting this right will deliver economic benefit through our large, mid-sized and small companies across the breadth of the country."

AMRC website

Images: Spirit AeroSystems

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