New £40 million Manufacturing Technology Centre to focus on net-shape forming processes

September 21, 2011

A new 12,000 m2 Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, UK, has been officially opened following its completion earlier this summer. The new MTC is the result of a £40 million joint investment from Advantage West Midlands and the East Midlands Development Agency to bring together some of the UK’s leading academics, engineers and industry professionals under one roof to develop and demonstrate new manufacturing technologies on an industrial scale.

Near-net shape hot isostatic pressing (HIPing) and direct laser deposition are among the net shape manufacturing processes which will be included in R&D programmes at the MTC. Other topics include intelligent automation; advanced tooling and fixturing; high accuracy automated welding, high integrity electronic systems and manufacturing systems modelling and operational effectiveness: providing a unique opportunity for manufacturers to develop new and innovative processes in a low risk environment.

The new MTC is part of a £130 million combined investment over ten years – and is the single largest investment in a manufacturing research facility in the UK for many years. Research partners a the MTC in Coventry include the University of Birmingham, University of Nottingham, Loughborough University and TWI Ltd. Industrial members of the MTC currently include Rolls Royce, Aero Engine Controls, Airbus UK and Hewlett Packard; however, the MTC has an overall target of 70 members in 5 years. Dr Clive Hickman is the CEO of the MTC and Ken Young is Technical Director.

The Manufacturing Technology Centre has also been chosen to be the UK government’s first Technology Innovation Centre (TIC). TIC funding is worth up to £30 million per annum and this will allow the MTC to focus on the area of High Value Manufacturing (HVM). This in turn will provide much needed access to technical expertise and state of the art equipment that would normally be out of the reach of individual businesses. Over the next 10 years, the HVM TIC is expected to lead to approximately £2 billion of additional manufacturing R&D and the creation of up to 3000 new skilled high value engineering jobs.

Rolls-Royce has been closely involved in developing the network of UK manufacturing research centres, including the recently completed MTC in Coventry. These centres provide an infrastructure to support public and privately funded manufacturing technology research. Rolls-Royce joined the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield, which opened in 2004, with founder member Boeing. In early 2009 it opened the £10 million Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future, a four-fold expansion of the AMRC, on the same Sheffield site. In 2007, Rolls-Royce agreed with Scottish Enterprise and Strathclyde University to launch the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC).

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