A UK government and industry funded National Centre for Additive Manufacturing has been formally opened at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, UK. The opening ceremony was performed by Anna Soubry MP, the UK’s Minister for Small Business Industry and Enterprise who also officially opened a new Aerospace Research Centre on the MTC campus.
The aim of the National Centre is to develop production-ready Additive Manufacturing processes, to overcome barriers to wide-scale adoption, and to work on legislative and standardisation issues for this emerging activity.
The Centre has received initial funding from the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK as part of a £2 billion joint Government and industry package to be invested over the next seven years to ensure that UK manufacturing industry retains its competitive edge.
The MTC’s chief technologist, David Wimpenny, stated that the centre’s priorities would include fast-track innovative process development, powder production, part design, inspection and validation, materials research and robust, cost-effective production processes.
“The strength and integrity of components and products made by Additive Manufacturing often exceeds that of conventionally produced parts. Complex shapes and structures can be made with no joints or weaknesses. Imagine a bicycle made as a single structure with no welds or brazed joints – just a seamless tubular structure,” stated Wimpenny.
The Aerospace Research Centre provides a facility in which MTC engineers will work with experts from the world’s major aerospace companies on projects which will define aerospace technology for the future.
The Aerospace Technology Institute provided £15.2 million funding for the new aerospace facility through the Government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult and Innovate UK, formerly the Technology Strategy Board. This investment has been matched by funding from industry.
Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive of Innovate UK, stated, “These ground-breaking facilities will further reinforce the MTC and the HVM Catapult’s capabilities as a world-class high value manufacturing research and technology organisation. Innovate UK is proud to be working with the Catapult to help drive forward national economic growth.”
The Aerospace Research Centre forms part of the MTC’s research and development campus which will also include the MTC’s soon-to-be-completed Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre which will tackle manufacturing skills shortage by training manufacturing engineering apprentices on a sponsored or part-sponsored basis, up-skilling manufacturing engineers and developing graduate engineers and industrial designers.
The MTC is a rapidly growing business. Since its formal opening in 2011, the centre has grown to 350 members of staff and now has more than 80 industrial members, which include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce, Airbus, HP and GM. The MTC is part the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.