Tuesday, December 6, 2016

News: £20m research centre for powder materials

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The University of Sheffield has announced that £20m of funding has been secured for a new hub focusing on developing new powder-based manufacturing processes.

The institution will lead on the Manufacture using Advanced Powder Processes (MAPP) Hub which will be part of the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Materials Research. The University and its Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing are sharing in the £235m funding package for the Institute, which will have a substantial wing in Sheffield.

Located on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham and a partner in the HVM Catapult (the government's strategic initiative that aims to revitalise the manufacturing industry), the AMRC focuses on advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors. It is a partnership between industry and academia, which has become a model for research centres worldwide.

MAPP is aimed at improving the quality and capabilities of powder material technology so that it can be more widely used in manufacturing. It brings together expertise from the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, and the AMRC and Nuclear AMRC, together with partners from the Universities of Leeds, Manchester, Oxford, and Imperial College London.

£10m investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is matched with over £7m from industry and HVMC partners, and over £3m from universities.

New research centres are planned on the University's 46 hectares of employment land on the former Sheffield Airport site, off the Parkway between Rotherham and Sheffield, where the AMRC2 Campus is being created.

Bringing together 17 industry partners and six centres in the UK's High Value Manufacturing Catapult, together with academic research, MAPP will develop and translate research into new developments for manufacturers in areas such as aerospace and energy.

One of the industry partners is Metalysis, the Rotherham-based innovator that this week announced that it had synthesised the "wonder metal" graphene using its innovative electrochemical process. It is currently ramping up the production of titanium and tantalum metal powder production business which primarily serves the 3D printing industry.

Other industry partners include Rolls-Royce and Maher, both of which have bases on the AMP in Rotherham.

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Professor Iain Todd from the University of Sheffield's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said: "There is a huge potential for manufacturing using advanced powders, however the industrial application of many processes is being held back by some fundamental science and engineering challenges, and they are not realising their potential. Our vision is to ensure that these game changing technologies deliver on their promise for UK industry."

The University of Sheffield is to be a key partner in three additional "Future Manufacturing Hubs" - Advanced Metrology, Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation and Compound Semiconductors.

The AMRC and Nuclear AMRC are partners in the £30m Future Advanced Metrology Hub at the University of Huddersfield that will integrate measurement science with design and production processes to improve control, quality and productivity. It is seen as critical to digital, high value manufacturing known as "Industry 4.0."

Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: "This investment recognises the vital role new technologies play in the security and growth of our high-value manufacturing sector - which must be a key component in the UK’s industrial strategy.

"Around the world, nations are determined to invest in next generation manufacturing and innovation. In the UK, Government is focusing on Industrial Strategy. This announcement is important because it shows how companies can become more productive and globally competitive by integrating the latest research into manufacturing processes.

"The future of the UK economy and the creation of wealth, jobs and opportunity will depend upon the UK ensuring that research in universities is working hand in hand with industry. I am extremely proud that The University of Sheffield is an international leader in this vital work."

University of Sheffield website
AMRC website
Metalysis website

Images: AMRC / Bond Bryan


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