£80m to bridge innovation gap between lab and factory floor

Posted on 26 Mar 2015 by Jonny Williamson

Government has awarded £15m to Brunel University London which will unlock a further £62m of private sector support to span the “valley of death” that currently prevents lab-based innovations becoming casting industry practice.

The funding will allow a second phase of the new Advanced Metal Casting Centre (AMCC) to scale-up processes and innovations that work in the laboratory but fail to achieve their potential on the factory floor.

Funders agreed there is compelling evidence that the casting industry has neither been able to conduct high-level research and development by itself nor has it been previously supported by adequate academic research in UK universities.

Prof Zhongyun Fan
Prof Zhongyun Fan, Brunel University London.

Prof Zhongyun Fan’s successful proposal aims to speed up industrial implementation by providing evidence of successful transition to the demands of factory-scale production.

The size of the new award underlines how important cutting edge casting technology is to the competitive position of every sector of UK manufacturing across automotive, aerospace, defence, energy and general engineering.

The funding will complete the AMCC’s essential range of factory-level metal casting/processing facilities and establish critical supporting research facilities for developing advanced metallic materials, as well as underpin component performance testing and create a suite for process modelling and simulation.

The new centre will conduct high quality research on nucleation, liquid metal engineering, the development of advanced materials and more efficient casting/processing technologies.

The long-term intention is to establish a National Metals Research Park on Brunel’s campus aimed at further accelerating the industrial take-up of new technologies.