Monday, April 18, 2016

News: Replicate success at AMRC

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AMRC Castings has installed a new piece of kit at its state of the art facility that will provide the opportunity to radically reduce the time it takes to produce large scale, highly accurate castings with a high quality surface finish that does not need machining.

Castings Technology International (Cti) was acquired by the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in 2014. Since then, it has been split into two organisations; AMRC Castings, which focuses on research and development, and Cti Ltd, which carries out commercial work.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, Cti developed a speciality in helping castings companies to solve problems and improve production. The organisation also supplies the high value manufacturing sector with low volume, precision steel, superalloy and titanium castings that would otherwise be difficult to source.

AMRC Castings develops new castings technologies and provides design and manufacturing consultancy services.

Thanks to backing from the UK's innovation agency, Innovate UK, and the Aerospace Technology Institute, AMRC Castings has been able to significantly increase the size of replica patterns and moulds it can produce using CNC technology.

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In the past, the maximum size of a single mould component AMRC Castings could make has been limited to 2600x1500x850 millimetres.

That has now been radically increased to 2600x4000x2000 millimetres, following the installation of a bespoke CMS Poseidon 5 axis CNC machine.

The specifications of the CMS Poseidon have been tailored to machining dimensionally accurate replicas from polystyrene which are coated in ceramic to create the moulds used in AMRC Castings' Replicast and MEGAshell process. It has also been designed to machine sand moulds for AMRC Castings' Patternless Process , which makes mould and cores by using CNC technology to mill them out of blocks of bonded sand.

A £7m government grant as part of the Aerospace Growth Partnership is funding a new facility, currently under construction on the AMP, which will allow companies within the aerospace industry to develop the capability to melt and manufacture large scale titanium castings in the UK instead of this work being carried out abroad.

The biggest furnace for casting Titanium aerospace components in Western Europe is to be installed at AMRC Castings' headquarters later this year. The facility, which has also received support from the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, is designed to enable UK companies to break into global markets for near net shape large-scale titanium aerospace engine and structural components weighing up to 500kg.

Richard Gould at AMRC Castings, said: "Any UK company wanting to break into the market would have to develop the know-how themselves, but we aim to build up the know-how for the benefit of the UK advanced manufacturing and aerospace industries.

"The new CMS Poseidon machine is very fast, while retaining a very high degree of accuracy and will be ideally suited to making moulds for marine propellers, large scale valves and other critical components for the oil and gas, renewables and wider energy markets, as well as aerospace.

"Within renewables alone, applications could include tidal energy systems that incorporate functional performance related hydraulic passageways that need to be made to tight tolerances, with an as cast working surface geometry."

AMRC website

Images: AMRC

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