Britain’s automotive and aerospace manufacturers now have access to new metal processing and casting techniques at the Advanced Metal Processing Centre (AMPC) based at Brunel University.
The new centre will let manufacturers work with Brunel on large-scale research and development projects and investigate ideas such as novel structures for lightweight car parts to a commercial level.
AMPC was opened at the Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST) on 13 June 2018 and is funded by £15m from the UK government. It is the second phase of BCAST’s scale-up facility, following on from 2016’s launch of the Advanced Metal Casting Centre (AMCC).
According to BCAST director Prof Zhongyun Fan, the centre’s long-term aim is to reduce the amount of new metal mined from the ground.
“So it is essential that we continue to be able to find even better ways of creating high-quality components and systems from metals that have already been used at least once,” he said.
The industrial and pilot-scale metal processing equipment will enable the processing and fabrication of extruded metals, such as novel bending processes, machining and advanced joining techniques; casting processes, including gravity die and sand casting, adding to those available in the AMCC.
The facilities will similarly enhance the characterisation of supporting materials and include two x-ray computed tomography systems for 3D inspection: a 450 kV system for inspection of large-sized components, capable of imaging defects of 100μm; and a 150 kV system with micron-scale resolution in small samples.
Optical 3D scanning facilities will enable the precise measurement of components by stereo-camera optical 3D scanning with triple-scan functionality, additional photogrammetry, touch probes for out-of-sight measurement, and inspection turntable.
A key feature of the AMPC and AMCC is that BCAST’s researchers and seconded engineers from its partners will work side by side.