Outlook bright for UK manufacturing
SWINDON, England – The future of manufacturing in the UK has just gotten a little brighter: The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded six grants totaling £12.2 million to four new research centers that promise to improve manufacturing.
Those new centers, announced by Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, include a project that seeks to foster use of lasers and optical methods for measurement and control of machines in factories.
With a £2.5 million grant, the project, “The Light Controlled Factory,” will work toward widespread adoption and interlinked deployment of novel, measurement-based techniques in factories, to provide machines and parts with aspects of temporal, spatial and dimensional self-awareness, enabling superior machine control and parts verification.
“The futuristic vision of this research is to develop and use novel lasers and optical methods for both the accurate measurement of large and complex products and the real-time control of machines within the factory of the future,” said professor Paul Maropoulos of the University of Bath, the project leader. “This is a large task that requires a multidisciplinary team of investigators drawing on diverse skills and expertise from manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering and physics.”
The team of investigators also includes professors Patrick Keogh and Glen Mullineux from the department of mechanical engineering and professor Jonathan Knight and Dr. William Wadsworth from the physics department.
The researchers have also secured match funding in excess of £1.25 million from 10 industrial partners, including Airbus, Astrium Satellites, Rolls-Royce, Renishaw and the National Physical Laboratory.
Other EPSRC grant awardees include projects focusing on precise metal forming processes that can deliver small batches of high-value components and products; assembly lines that evolve and adapt quickly to new demands and use interchangeable components; and metrology concepts for a new generation of plasma manufacturing with atom-scale precision. The grants were announced as part of a £45 million package of investments in manufacturing research.
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