Ford is to invest £1.5m in a joint research centre with Oxford University to develop new production processes for manufacturing automotive components.
The centre is being jointly funded by the car manufacturer and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It will develop a new technique for making stamping dies and moulds for metal and plastic parts.
Known as spray-formed tooling, the process creates tools and dies by spraying molten tool steel onto a low cost mould.
Within two years Ford expects to be able to manufacture tool sets for stamping doors, hoods and large body panels using the process. It claims it will cut the development time of the tools from around 15-25 weeks to just three to four weeks.
The centre will be based at the university’s recently opened Begbroke Business and Science Park, designed to allow academic research to be carried out alongside industrial laboratory work.
Half of the park will be used as an academic materials research centre, focusing on industry-sponsored projects, while the other half will operate as a business and science park, housing technology start-ups.
Companies such as Rolls-Royce, Hewlett-Packard and AEA Technology are already working with the university’s department of materials at Begbroke.
Copyright: Centaur Communications Ltd. and licensors