Sheffield Forgemasters has presented its technical developments into civil nuclear manufacture, including forging processes which have not been achieved anywhere else in the world, to industry leaders at a national conference.
The engineering specialist was invited to present at the UK Trade and Investment UK Civil Nuclear Energy Showcase conference in London alongside Vince Cable, the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills and speakers from Rolls-Royce, NAMRC, Westinghouse and AMEC.
Forgemasters’ presentation by chief executive Graham Honeyman focused on company’s strategic position in the global nuclear supply chain as one of a handful of companies capable of manufacturing highly technical large-scale forgings which form the main components within a nuclear power station.
Honeyman said: “We have invested significant time and money into pushing the boundaries of forging technology at Sheffield Forgemasters. As part of this, we have refined a process which enables us to forge a nozzle into a safety critical domed forging, which creates not only greater manufacturing efficiencies, but also delivers a component which has higher integrity than one which has been machined and welded to create the same net shape.
“As such forgings form the most crucial parts required within a modern nuclear power plant, the potential for this innovative forging technique is huge, with manufacturing time and cost saving implications to civil nuclear manufacturing companies passed on through initial manufacture and a reduction of weld inspections and fatigue points once the component is in service.”
According to Honeyman, this technique has not been achieved by any other civil nuclear engineering company. A paper he presented at the conference covered Forgemasters’ work to addess other elements of nuclear manufacture such as ingot design, microstructure of steels, materials development and new castings which are specific to this market.
“It is my belief that the skills and resources required for the UK to lead the world in civil nuclear are right here, but we need to be better than any other nation to succeed. Our own investment has to continue even in difficult recessionary times when cuts may need to be made in other areas, because progression demands it.”
Forgemasters’ presentation included an outline of highly complex methods of computer simulation which enabled teams at the Brightside Lane plant to create their largest ever forged tubesheet, another component for use in civil nuclear power generation, which met stringent ASME international nuclear standards at the first attempt.
The company has an ongoing business strategy which includes reinvestment of all profits back into the business to maintain its high technology approach to business development.