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U.K. University to Build Advanced Manufacturing Facility

Artist's concept drawing for AMRC Factory 2050

Artist’s concept drawing for AMRC Factory 2050 (University of Sheffield)

University of Sheffield in the U.K. says it secured funding for an advanced manufacturing lab to study the needs of the aerospace industry and other high-value manufacturing industries. The £43 million ($US 66.3 million) lab, part of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), is supported by Boeing — which has its name on the official facility title — as well as manufacturers Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, and Spirit AeroSystems.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England, says Sheffield, is contributing a £10 million ($15.4 milion) grant from its Research Partnership Investment Fund for the facility. The university says the new lab, known as AMRC Factory 2050, will be the first in the U.K. with a completely reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing capability, to quickly switch between making high-value components and one-off parts.

AMRC Factory 2050 is expected to include technologies such as advanced robotics, virtual environments, and 3-D printing. The university says some 50 researchers and engineers will work in the new facility, with completion scheduled for next year, although the exact location is still undecided.

The lab, says Sheffield, will have about 4,500 square meters of floor space, and be made largely of glass. The building will be constructed to Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) standards, a voluntary rating for green buildings in the U.K.

The overall AMRC facility is a lab for advanced manufacturing technologies, supporting research groups in machining, assembly, composite materials, and structural testing. The lab carries out generic research of interest to its 70 industrial supporters, as well as specific research projects for individual company clients, or studies supported by special grants from U.K. or European funding sources.

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