The University of Sheffield AMRC has secured £7 million funding (Demo)

Source: AMRC website – published June 19th

The University of Sheffield AMRC has secured £7 million funding for research into large titanium castings for the next generation of aircraft

The research will be led by the AMRC with Boeing’s sister centre Castings Technology International (CTI), a world-leading provider of technology, expertise and services to the cast metals sector.

Currently, the UK is not capable of producing the largest titanium castings for aircraft and engine cases that are required by the aerospace industry. The new funding, from government and industry through the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), will be used for research into the manufacture of these aerospace titanium castings.

The investment will fund a new facility at CTI that will allow companies within the aerospace industry to develop the capability to melt and manufacture these precision castings in the UK instead of this work being carried out abroad. With up to 27,000 new planes needed between now and 2030, this represents a huge potential growth area for the UK.

The new CTI facility will be able to cast large structural parts with a poured weight of up to 1000kg. CTI’s current facility can make parts of 90kg poured weight.

By acting as a technology demonstrator for UK manufacturers, this investment will ensure that the UK’s aerospace supply chain can develop new capabilities to produce large thin-walled titanium castings, and win a significant part of the growing global market for these components.

This funding is a key part of the aerospace industrial strategy, jointly developed by industry and Government through the Aerospace Growth Partnership, which provides a single, national focus for technology research and facilities in the sector. £2bn funding over seven years has been provided by Government and industry to support the strategy.

The funding was announced by business secretary Vince Cable at the BIS Manufacturing Summit in Merseyside, part of the International Festival of Business. Cable said: “Our aerospace sector is a global success story and is key to driving the current economic recovery. This project, which we are funding through our aerospace industrial strategy, will support the development of efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft, while keeping highly-skilled manufacturing jobs here in Britain.”

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, founder and executive dean of the University of Sheffield AMRC, welcomed the announcement: “The 1000kg titanium casting facility will be unique in Europe and will enable UK companies to explore the opportunities and benefits of making large, near-net shape complex castings.”

CTI joined AMRC in August 2013, adding new breadth and depth to the University’s collaborative R&D capabilities, and allowing the AMRC with Boeing to offer state-of-the-art castings technologies to its industrial partners.

The UK has the number one aerospace industry in Europe, and is second only to the United States globally. Aerospace contributes £24 billion to the economy every year, through 3,000 companies and supporting 230,000 jobs across the country. Three quarters of the UK industry’s products are exported.

The ATI, opened by business minister Michael Fallon in April, will oversee the £2 billion joint government and industry investment provided through the industrial strategy. Improvements enabled by the ATI are expected to lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions of more than 100 million tonnes each year from next generation aircraft – equivalent to taking 20 million cars off the road around the world.