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The Nuclear AMRC is leading two new projects to tackle challenges of large-scale manufacturing

The Inform and Simple projects, backed by government funding of almost £2.5 million, will investigate two contrasting approaches to producing large-scale nuclear components. Inform aims to improve the process of moving large parts between multiple machines, while Simple aims to do more operations on a single platform.

The Inform project (intelligent fixtures for optimised and radical manufacture) will develop an adaptive fixturing system to ease the movement of large parts around a factory, and ensure precision throughout forging, machining, welding, inspection and assembly.

The project will develop a through-life fixture which can hold large components while they undergo a range of operations, and facilitate movement between tools. With sensors linked to actuators and manipulators, the fixture will automatically adjust its grip to minimise distortion during movement and manufacturing.

The fixturing technology will be demonstrated on large cylindrical parts representing a two-thirds scale replica of a mid-range reactor pressure vessel. The Nuclear AMRC is leading the project, backed by around £1.1 million project funding, with partners include fixturing specialist MetLase, Sheffield Forgemasters, Cambridge Vacuum Engineering, NPL and TWI.

The funding will support collaborative R&D over 20 months, and follows an initial three-month feasibility study by the Nuclear AMRC. Ultimately, the project aims to cut cost and time for manufacturing large complex nuclear components on a series of dedicated platforms by at least 50 per cent.

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MetLase to take centre stage at Advanced Engineering 2017. See us at stand M54 in the Performance Metals Engineering section

Delegates attending Advanced Engineering 2017 could find this year’s visit particularly productive, thanks to a range of demonstrations by MetLase - the joint venture between Rolls-Royce and Unipart Group.

It’s the first time that MetLase has attended the major exhibition at Birmingham’s NEC, which already hosts big names such as Boeing, Nissan, Hexcel and Dassault Systès.

Steve Dunn, Managing Director of MetLase said: “We developed our process and launched our innovative technology two years ago; since then the business has doubled in size but the future potential is huge. That’s why we’ve decided to widen our reach to other parts of the industry by attending this prestigious and established event.”

This year, MetLase became a partner on a collaborative R&D project with the University of Sheffield’s AMRC and Meggitt Plc to develop an intelligent, digitally enabled Smart Workbench, and has also been working with Williams Advanced Engineering producing bonding fixtures to assemble a complete Lightweight Electric Car Platform in just nine days.

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Williams Advanced Engineering Reveals Lightweight Electric Car Platform at LCV2017

A new composite chassis concept, aimed at showing car makers an efficient way of changing from petrol to electric cars, is being launched at the Cenex LCV show by Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE).

MetLase is proud to have worked on this project by producing the tooling to enable this innovative chassis to be assembled. Read more about this here.

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Steve Dunn, Managing Director of MetLase at AMRC Factory 2050 with IMG Theme Lead in Automated Assembly, James Illingworth.

MetLase joins the AMRC to develop the fixtures of the future

MetLase has become the latest member of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) following a recent collaboration in which it developed a set of 14 fixtures for the assembly of complex parts.

MetLase will work as a partner on the Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG) at the AMRC's Factory 2050 facility, drawing on MetLase's skills and modular fixturing to develop smart enabled tooling.

IMG Theme Lead in Automated Assembly, James Illingworth, said: "Developing smart fixturing, or fixturing that is intelligent by using sensors to collect data, provides valuable benefits for in-process control and monitoring, and improvements in part quality. The data collected can be used in real-time for process adjustment or later in the manufacturing process for review."

Steve Dunn, Managing Director of MetLase said: "We are pleased to join the AMRC, which has a global reputation as a centre of excellence for manufacturing research and innovative engineering. As partners on the Integrated Manufacturing Group, we can combine our expertise to develop our fixtures to interact with autonomous technologies such as those involved with robotic assembly."

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MetLase is now officially one year old: the Joint Venture was incorporated on September 1st 2015.

MetLase's First Birthday!

1st September 2016: the 1st anniversary of the MetLase Joint Venture between Unipart and Rolls-Royce.

In this year, we have built on very solid foundations, moved into new premises, won an award for innovation and doubled the size of our team. We continue to innovate and to win new business, and we look forward to our second year!

Looking back to last year, in 2015, here's how the joint venture was first announced.

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At the official opening of the new MetLase building, in the Rotherham AMP, the Business Secretary is given a demonstration of the MetLase fixture used in PROVE.

MetLase showcases engineering innovation to Business Secretary

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid, visited Rotherham’s Advanced Manufacturing Park on Thursday 18 May 2016, in order to open MetLase's new building, and to see our innovative technology in action.

MetLase are the first tenant of the state-of-the-art 32,000 sq ft facility, and intend to create 30 technical engineering jobs over the next 2 years.

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MetLase wins Unipart Way Awards

Unipart Way Awards 2015: MetLase is part of the winning team for the "Best in Class for Innovation" award.

On 17th May 2016, at the Unipart Way Awards Ceremony, the award for "Best In Class for Innovation" was presented jointly to Unipart Manufacturing Group, Unipart Powertrain Applications, the Institute for Advenced Manufacturing and Engineering, and MetLase.

This video shows the lightweight exhaust system that MetLase and the AME developed (which also features as a case-study).

The prize was presented by John Neill, Unipart CEO, and the award was accepted by James Simester, Carol Burke and Steve Dunn.

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