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Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing Launches Yorkshire and Humber's first composite materials research centre

Olympic bicycles, aircraft wings, hi-fi speakers and even wind turbines could one day be made using composite manufacturing technology developed in Yorkshire and Humber.            

Today, Bart Moenster, chairman of the board of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing and director of Manufacturing Technology at Boeing Phantom Works, Boeing's advanced research and development unit, invited Deputy Chair of Yorkshire Forward, Linda Pollard, to launch the region's first composite materials research centre.            

The £4.5 million AMRC Composite Centre, located on the Advanced Manufacturing Park, is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Boeing. The new centre is dedicated to enabling UK manufacturers to create better products, faster, cheaper, easier and greener using composite materials.            

"Advanced composites are revolutionizing the aerospace industry and are here to stay," Moenster said. "The technologies developed by the AMRC Composites Centre will enable the Yorkshire and Humber region to take advantage of this growth via new companies with new capabilities, while helping the University of Sheffield prepare engineers with the knowledge to use these capabilities."     

The centre is equipped with specialised equipment for composite manufacture including two autoclaves, a clean-room, and a unique automated composite placement system giving engineers the capability to undertake manufacturing research for next-generation civil aircraft, automotive, and off-shore energy.  Although aviation is a large and important market for composites, currently valued at over £4 billion per year, the large aerospace companies involved such as Rolls-Royce, Messier-Dowty and BAE Systems won't be the only companies that are capable of benefiting from the centre's research.             

"The Composite Centre is an excellent resource for increasing technology transfer to companies of all sizes and types," says Research Director of the AMRC Professor Keith Ridgway.  "Our experience of collaborating with over 40 industrial leaders, means that our technical support; technology development; and supply chain guidance is extremely relevant for anyone looking to enter this expanding market."               

It will be working with local small and medium sized companies such the medical, gas, and tooling industry whenever possible, with consideration to the Regional Economic Strategy of concentrating on the Advanced Materials and Engineering and Materials initiative.  Regionally it will be key to developing the Advanced Materials and Metals cluster strategy.                 

Educationally, the Composite Centre will create opportunities for aspiring young men and women engineers to learn about this rapidly expanding field.

Professor Geof Tomlinson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Sheffield said:  "I'm delighted that the University of Sheffield's AMRC with Boeing will be expanding into the important area of Composite Materials research with the establishment of the Composite Centre.  Our existing partnership with Boeing is a great example of the way in which universities can collaborate with world-class organisations to bridge the gap between emerging research and industrial application.  Our plans are to continue to build on these strengths which clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of translational research."            

The Composite Centre is supported by a £4.5 million investment by the Regional Development Agency Yorkshire Forward; the European Union; the University of Sheffield and Boeing with the goal of creating wealth, long lasting jobs and prestige for the region, accomplished by attracting inward investment. Pollard commented; "The Composites Centre supports the exploitation of new materials which fall outside of the traditional metals sector of which our region is world renowned, putting Yorkshire and Humber at the forefront of a new age of lighter and stronger composite structures. It demonstrates Yorkshire Forward's commitment to Advanced Engineering and Metals and I am sure the Centre will complement the existing world-class facilities on the Advanced Manufacturing Park."   

Press release issued by Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre on November 13, 2008


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