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€4.5 million research project awarded to the University of Sheffield advanced manufacturing research centre with Boeing

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing and Sheffield based Footprint Tools Ltd., are pleased to announce that they have won the €4.5 million Rapid Production of Large Aerospace Components (RAPOLAC) strategic research project from the European Commission. The goal of RAPOLAC is to increase usability of the additive manufacturing process shape metal deposition (SMD). SMD is a process pioneered by AMRC sponsor company, Rolls-Royce, and uses advanced robotics to create parts by adding material on, rather than shaping parts by machining material away.

"Footprint Tools recognised the potential of developing SMD to gain entry into the aerospace market," says Research Director of the AMRC, Professor Keith Ridgway. "We are confident that working with Rolls-Royce and Footprint, we can take SMD to the next level and improve the control systems so the process can run completely automated. When we do this, the process can then be used for making large batches of production parts."

The international research team for RAPOLAC includes one of the world's oldest universities, The Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium; as well as a wide range of companies from as close as France, to as far away as Argentina.

The AMRC lead on the project will be Project Manager for SMD at the AMRC, Dr. Rosemary Gault.

"One of our goals at the AMRC is to assist local SMEs by helping them develop new technologies in new markets," says Dr. Gault. "We are pleased that Footprint Tools has been rewarded for their foresight by winning this prestigious grant from the European Commission."

Managing Director of Footprint Tools, Mr Christopher Jewitt, said "We are delighted that our project has been successful. It will assist us in refocusing our traditional tool-making expertise on a new emerging technology market."

Press release issued by Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre on August 9, 2006


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