20 years of making the future - University of Sheffield research centre celebrates huge milestone

It is two decades since the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre burst on to the scene with a radical new approach to working with industry.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 3:37 pm

Since then it has achieved countless innovations and advances for some of the biggest - and smallest - names in business. As it celebrates its 20th birthday, here is a timeline of ‘greatest hits’.

This piece is taken from a special supplement in The Star on Thursday June 10.

2004 - The AMRC worked with Messier-Bugatti-Dowty on titanium landing gear components for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Machining time was reduced by a factor of 18 and tooling costs by 30 per cent.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

2020 - Abdul Haque, technical lead in metal additive manufacturing at the AMRC, inspects a lightweight fuel tank for small scale satelilites, designed and developed at the AMRC as part of the MiniTANKS project

2005 - Machining time on titanium landing gear bolts on the Airbus A380 was cut from 145 hours to 19 hours by the AMRC.

2008-2012 - A vast expansion of the AMRC campus saw the opening of the Factory of the Future (2008), an open-plan workshop focused on machining research. Two years later the Queen launched building work on the Nuclear AMRC. In 2011, the AMRC Knowledge Transfer Centre opened for business and a year later the Composite Centre was built, as an expansion to the Factory of the Future.

2012 - The AMRC worked with Rolls-Royce to cut production time of machining aero-engine disks. It led to Rolls investing £100m in its North East fan disc plant, securing 300 jobs.

2014 - AMRC engineers developed and tested a large drone prototype which made extensive use of rapid manufacturing techniques.

2021 - AMRC engineer, Dr Alexei Winter, demonstrates the automation process for positioning powerful magnets for Sheffield-based Magnomatics. The AMRC made the labour-intensive process 60 times faster.

2015 - The AMRC carried out the UK's first full airworthiness test on an aerobatic stunt plane for 30 years. Engineers designed a bespoke test rig simulating forces during high speed manoeuvres.

2015 - AMRC uses digital measuring techniques to create 3D models to help archaeologists preserve sites from the Middle Ages.

2015 – Rolls-Royce Advanced Blade Casting Facility opens.

Rolls-Royce opened a £110m factory on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham, across the road from the AMRC, employing 150 and with the capacity to manufacture more than 100,000 single crystal turbine blades a year.

2020 - An Airbus worker assembles a ventilator at the AMRC's £20m facility in Wales, AMRC Cymru, which was turned into a production facility for the life-saving devices during the Covid-19 pandemic.

2016 - The AMRC saved BAE Systems millions of pounds by developing a robotic countersinking prototype cell at Factory 2050.

2018 - Engineers at Yorkshire Water used virtual reality technology developed by the AMRC to design and visualise new treatment works which saved the company £1m in design costs over two years.

2018 - A 3D printing process developed at the AMRC was a featured technology at a Spacecraft Additive Design Workshop held by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory - the only technology developed outside the USA to be featured at the exclusive two-day workshop.

2018 - Highly respected Sheffield knife maker, Stuart Mitchell, joined forces with the AMRC to design and develop a bespoke, 3D printed titanium chef's knife.

2015 - The AMRC carried out the UK's first full airworthiness test for 30 years on an aerobatic stunt plane. Engineers designed a bespoke test rig simulating forces the aircraft would have to cope with.

2018 – Boeing Sheffield opens

Boeing’s first factory in Europe is close to the AMRC’s Factory 2050 on Sheffield Business Park. The aerospace giant chose Sheffield because of its long-standing relationship with the AMRC, the region’s capabilities, talent pool and strong manufacturing supply chains. On opening, 19 manufacturing apprentices that were trained at the AMRC Training Centre became part of the operational workforce.

2018 - McLaren Composites Technology Centre opens

The £50m factory makes lightweight carbon fibre chassis for McLaren supercars. It created more than 200 jobs and is set to pump an estimated £100m into the local economy by 2028. The facility is close to the AMRC on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham. The AMRC Training Centre supplied degree apprentices.

2019 – AMRC engineers use CGI movie technology to create a digital operating theatre demonstrator.

2019 - A former soldier in the Parachute Regiment took a giant leap towards creating a novel launching system using balloons to put satellites into space following a collaboration with design engineers at the AMRC.

Boeing’s first factory in Europe is on close to the AMRC’s Factory 2050 on Sheffield Business Park. Boeing chose Sheffield because of its long-standing relationship with the AMRC, the region’s capabilities, talent pool and strong manufacturing supply chains.

2020 – Disabled former Royal Marine Commando, Cpl Phil Eaglesham, hailed a space-age upright wheelchair, designed and prototyped at the AMRC as a 'game changer for users the world over'.

2020 - MiniTANKS, a lightweight fuel tank for small satellites, are designed and developed by metal additive manufacture engineers at the AMRC.

2020 - The AMRC created a method for the mass manufacture of components as part of the VentilatorChallengeUK consortium, answering a plea for help from the Prime Minister during the pandemic. The AMRC's facility in Wales was turned into a production facility for the life-saving devices.

2021 – Automation experts at the AMRC create a way for Sheffield firm Magnomatics to place powerful magnets on generators for offshore wind that is 60 times faster.

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is a world-class centre for research into advanced manufacturing technologies used in the aerospace, automotive, medical and other high-value manufacturing sectors.

It has a global reputation for helping companies overcome manufacturing problems and is a model for collaborative research involving universities, academics and industry worldwide.

Combining state of the art technologies with the AMRC’s expertise in design and prototyping, machining, casting, welding, additive manufacturing, composites, robotics and automation, digital manufacturing and structural testing, has created a manufacturing resource far beyond anything previously available in the UK.

The AMRC is a member of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a consortium of leading manufacturing and process research centres, backed by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Today, it has more than 120 industrial paying partners, employs more than 700 in a ‘family’ that includes the Nuclear AMRC and the AMRC Training Centre and has attracted more than 100 companies to the area, including Rolls-Royce, Boeing and McLaren. It also has satellites in Derby, Preston, Wales, the Wirral and Korea.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper.

Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.

A disabled former Royal Marine Commando, Cpl Phil Eaglesham, hailed the space-age upright wheelchair, designed and prototyped at the AMRC as a 'game changer for users the world over'.
2018 - Stuart Mitchell hand-finishing a 3D-printed titanium chef's knife, designed and developed alongside the AMRC.
2019 - Project engineer, Rob Stacey, demonstrates how smart tools and CGI technology combine in the AMRC's Industry 4.0 Digital Operating Theatre demonstrator.