Sheffield University granted £43m to create world’s ‘most advanced’ research factory

Artist's impression of new �43m research factory at  Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.'The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing has secured funding for a new �43 million state-of-the-art research factory, to meet the future needs of aerospace and other high-value manufacturing industries.
Artist's impression of new �43m research factory at Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.'The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing has secured funding for a new �43 million state-of-the-art research factory, to meet the future needs of aerospace and other high-value manufacturing industries.
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Sheffield University has secured £43 million to create ‘the most advanced factory in the world’ to help research into aircraft and energy technologies.

Funding for the facility, to be built at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, Catcliffe, includes a £10 million grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The rest of the cash is from private investment and funds from the university.

The AMRC Factory 2050 will be the UK’s first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing plant.

Leading manufacturers including Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Spirit AeroSystems are also committed to supporting the project.

Professor Keith Ridgway, executive dean of the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “This will be the most advanced factory in the world. It will give us a home for the research and demonstration work associated with building the next generation of aircraft and energy technologies.

“The aim is to be able to manufacture any component as a one-off, and instantaneously switch between components. This will be a totally reconfigurable factory, one of the goals of the advanced manufacturing research strategy.”

The AMRC Factory 2050 will combine technologies including advanced robotics, flexible automation, unmanned workspace, off-line programming in virtual environments linked to plug-and-play robotics, 3D printing from flexible automated systems, man-machine interfaces, and new programming and training tools. Around 50 researchers and engineers will work in the new facility.

The building will have an area of around 4,500 sqm, and will be built to high environmental standards. It will be constructed largely from glass, to showcase the advanced manufacturing technologies being developed within. The exact location is yet to be decided.

Around 50 researchers and engineers will work in the new facility, which will be completed around the end of 2014.

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, said: “The UK’s world-class universities are at the forefront of our economic recovery. It’s vital we do everything we can to encourage collaboration with the private sector and boost funding for research. These excellent projects will not only deliver new knowledge and applications for industry, but will accelerate growth and foster innovation between the research base and business, keeping the UK ahead in the global race.”

The funding for Sheffield is part of a £1.15 bn investment across the country, which includes £300 million from the Government.