The UK’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) has officially opened its new innovation and knowledge hub for metal additive manufacturing. The facility, based at the MTC’s Coventry Campus, will support collaborative R&D focused on pushing metal additive manufacturing forward.
The new innovation hub for AM is located in the MTC’s Aerospace Research Centre and comprises of a manufacturing facility and an online reference resource. The now open hub is offering AM users and experts a wealth of resources, including workshop and design, research and test facilities. The facility is reportedly among one of the first of its kind in Europe.
“The new hub will provide space and facilities for additive manufacturing designs and processes to be discussed by like-minded experts and users and taken forward,” commented Dr. Katy Milne, Chief Engineer for the DRAMA project at the MTC.
The MTC-led DRAMA project (Digital Reconfigurable Additive Manufacturing facilities for Aerospace) was formed to encourage suppliers to the UK’s aerospace industry to adopt AM. The £15 million project (£11M of which is from the BEIS Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund), has already engaged with over 50 aerospace supply chain companies.
“Additive manufacture has the potential to revolutionise design approaches and supply chains,” Dr. Milne added. “There are more than 4,000 companies involved in the aerospace industry, and there are current examples where aerospace primes have reduced the part count by an order of magnitude, this could be really disruptive for the existing supply chain. For companies who move into this space, there are major opportunities. Additive manufacturing offers the biggest opportunity since the introduction of composites. What we have learned from the DRAMA project is that collaboration is vital and everything we learn for aerospace can be transferred to other sectors.”
The MTC’s new innovation hub for AM will also provide broad support to partners, including training at all levels as well as expert advice of AM suitability, business case and implementation, research, technical support and more. Participating companies from the aerospace industry will have access to the hub’s facilities and expertise in a “commercially neutral but technologically world-class environment.”
The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult that is supported by Innovate UK. It also comprises the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing (NCAM). The funding for the DRAMA project is being delivered by Innovate UK and supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute. Other partners in the DRAMA project are Renishaw, the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, ATS Applied Tech Systems, Autodesk, Granta Design, the National Physical Laboratory and the University of Birmingham.