Rolls Royce expands US aerospace research centre

Posted on 28 Oct 2016 by Jonny Williamson

Rolls Royce has grown its presence in Southern California, with a $30m expansion into a new 62,000 sq ft facility that will be dedicated to research and development of ceramic matrix composite (CMC) materials and processes for use in next-generation aircraft engine components.

Rolls Royce held an official opening ceremony with federal, state and local officials, customers and employees at the new facility yesterday.

Rolls Royce purchased Hyper-Therm High-Temperature Composites, a privately held company based in in Huntington Beach, in May 2013 and continues to grow and invest with this new “CMC technology hub” located in in Cypress, California.   

Hearing the Rolls-Royce could rebalance its business focus outside the UK is enough to send shivers all the way down the UK aerospace supply chain – image courtesy of Rolls-Royce.
In 2015, Rolls-Royce invested $1.74bn globally on research and development – image courtesy of Rolls Royce.

Rolls Royce president and CEO of North America, Marion Blakey commented that this this expansion will develop novel solutions to improve performance of future aircraft engines.

Blakey explained: “The development of lighter, stronger, composite fibre components is just part of our commitment to continuously improve the performance of our products by focusing on lowering fuel consumption, emissions and noise.

“The team here in Cypress will be dedicated to seeing the commercial application of these technologies that will soon be adopted into advanced manufacturing production methods for gas turbine components.”

Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) reportedly offer multiple advantages for a range of high-tech industries such as aerospace and other applications with demanding thermal and mechanical requirements. 

CMCs deliver the high temperature capability of ceramics with the strength and reliability that is required for gas turbine engine applications, but weigh less than current alloys, helping to save on fuel costs.   

The highly advanced facility is expected to develop production-ready manufacturing processes and produce components that will be used for engine test programs. From there, manufacturing processes refined in Cypress facility will be applied to a future dedicated production facility for manufacturing of engine components.

Since Rolls Royce acquired Hyper-Therm in 2013, it has grown from 15 employees to nearly 50, with at least 10 more positions expected to be created this year and the potential for 40 more as production and testing of products increase.

In late 2015, Rolls-Royce received tax incentives totaling nearly $735,000 for the purchase of the high precision machinery, from the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority.