World class research centre to accelerate UK engineering

3 min read

A world-class research centre to create state of the art manufacturing technologies for the UK's aerospace, energy, marine and automobile industries is to be opened near Glasgow airport.

The £25 million Advanced Forming Research Centre will develop forming and forging technologies to support the design and manufacture of new products, including components and structures for aircraft wings and body parts, engines, cars, ships, medical devices, power generation and wind turbines.

The Centre - the first of its kind in the UK - is a collaborative venture between the University of Strathclyde, Scottish Enterprise, and engineering firms including Boeing, Mettis Aerospace and Rolls-Royce. It will make the UK's engineering sector even more competitive globally by delivering advanced products to the market place quicker and more cost effectively.

A bespoke building at Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, will open in early 2010 and will house cutting edge machinery, enabling the University's internationally renowned researchers to engineer new technologies on production scale equipment. The new Centre will also attract more top class researchers to the region - including a new professor funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's 'Star Appointment' scheme.

Among the first to welcome the Centre was Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, who said: “Scotland has a strong record of innovation in engineering and science through the work of pioneers such as James Watt. The £25 million Advance Forming Research Centre will help strengthen this reputation with the establishment of a world-class research facility which will work with the world’s leading international engineering and technology companies. 

“This new centre highlights Scotland’s commitment to being at the forefront of developing new technologies.”

Professor Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, said: "The Advanced Forming Research Centre will set new standards in design for the manufacturing industries, and help the centre's members compete on the world stage.

"Our work will be informed by a global network of researchers to ensure we are continually at the forefront of new technology, and research will be driven by the needs of our industrial partners.

"We are very proud of our history of working side-by-side with industry and commerce and the Centre is a good example of how Universities can work with global companies to bridge the gap between fundamental research and industrial application. The investment by the University, Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government and our partner companies highlights the importance of engineering to the wider economy."

The Centre will be managed by the University and will carry out a programme of core research in collaboration with its current 10 members, as well as further research commissioned by companies around the globe. Significant interest in membership is already being shown by a number of additional UK and international companies.

Work will include developing blue-sky products to lay the foundations of future forming and forging technology, as well as trouble shooting established industrial processes. It is estimated that the worldwide market for the rapidly developing forging industry will grow to $55.7 billion by 2010.

Jack Perry, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise, said: "Scotland has a long and distinguished history in developing breakthroughs in engineering and manufacturing technologies. The Centre will enhance Scotland's global reputation for excellence by providing a world-class facility carrying out leading edge research and developing new technologies that have the potential for commercial success and will have a significant impact on the Scottish economy.

"Scottish Enterprise will continue to work closely with the University of Strathclyde and all our industry partners to help create a facility of international significance that will promote Scotland as a location for leading edge engineering research and development."

Ricky Martin, Fabrication Technology Leader at Boeing Research & Technology, Boeing's advanced, central research-and-development organization, said: "Our participation in the Advanced Forming Research Centre at the University of Strathclyde provides us with opportunities to help develop advanced forming and forging technologies that yield higher quality, lower-cost components for current and future aerospace systems."

Archie MacPherson, CEO at Mettis Aerospace, said: "The Advanced Forming Research Centre presented Mettis Aerospace with an opportunity to get involved to help shape the research and development agenda within the aerospace forming and forging sector.

"Through collaboration with all parties, the Centre will be able to bring new processes, technologies and applications to market faster. This will support our global competitiveness and will optimise solutions for our customers."

Hamid Mughal, Executive Vice President, Manufacturing Engineering at Rolls-Royce - the first industrial partner of the venture - said: "The Advanced Forming Research Centre offers a unique collaborative opportunity to develop and implement world leading manufacturing processes and technologies.

"The formation of this Research Centre helps us to further strengthen our relationship with the University of Strathclyde and to establish a mutually beneficial partnership of leading companies, technology providers and academic staff, dedicated to the development of best-in-class technology solutions."

The Centre's bespoke building, which is being funded by Scottish Enterprise including funding from the Scottish Government, will include top-of-the range equipment including hot and cold presses and metrology, metallurgy and material testing equipment.

It will take a cross-sectoral approach, and the Centre welcomes potential collaboration opportunities with companies from any industry. It is expected that the Centre will employ around 50 people in its first years, as well as helping to attract further research funding to Scotland.

UK businesses recently rated the University of Strathclyde in their top 10 favourite universities to work with, according to a study by Imperial College Business School. Strathclyde was the only Scottish university to appear in the rankings.

For more information about the Advanced Forming Research Centre, visit:

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