Wednesday, November 22, 2017

News: AMRC gets RAF up and running

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The Royal Air Force's (RAF's) bobsleigh team will compete in the British Bobsleigh & Skeleton Association's British Championships this weekend, in a bobsleigh given a new lease of life with custom composite repairs manufactured by the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre's (AMRC's) Composite Centre.

At the University of Sheffield AMRC with Boeing on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the state-of-the-art centre supports the development of advanced composite materials and works with complex hybrid components and systems, which require manufacturing expertise in both composite and metallic structures.

The RAF has eight, two-men bobsleigh teams and their sleds entered in the annual competition in Austria, where they hope to become British bobsleigh champions. Until recently one of the teams sleds had been out of commission following an impact that damaged its left bale, or wing at the front of the sled.

That is until RAF Bobsleigh team manager Cpl. Ross Brown met AMRC Composite Centre development engineer Craig Atkins at this year's Cosford Air Show and was invited to visit the AMRC.

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Cpl. Brown (pictured back, centre), said: "We were keen to see if working together would be of benefit and to create partnerships with British organisations that may be able to help us further the sport. So we took along three of our different sleds and were delighted the AMRC agreed to assess the various ways the damaged sled could be improved and carry out the substantial repair work it needed to get it back into service."

AMRC Composite Technician Josh Oxley took on the task of repairing the sled. Oxley started work at the AMRC in 2012 as an apprentice and after three years, qualified as a Composite Technician for the AMRC Composite Centre.

He cut away the section of the sled bale finding numerous old repairs, so putting the skills and techniques he has learnt into practice, he engineered a new bale section from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP).

Oxley (pictured, left) said: "This is the first composite repair I was tasked with since qualifying as a composite technician, so it was a really exciting job to do. I engineered a new bale that was lighter which is important for the weight of the sled, but one that was also stronger and lessens friction on the track compared to a cast repair."

Cpl Brown added: "I was hugely impressed by the AMRC Composite Centre and the work carried out by Oxley went above and beyond what I expected.

"Structural integrity of a sled is paramount when travelling at speeds of up to 100mph down a concrete tube covered in ice. Regarded as Formula One-on-ice, bobsleigh races are won or lost by hundredths of a second, so a quality repair is of the upmost importance to us."

AMRC website

Images: UKSE

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