Sheffield University completes £10m hi-tech centre

Posted on 12 Aug 2011 by The Manufacturer

A new £10m hi-tech centre has been completed by Sheffield University. It is expected to make large contributions to the development of advanced manufacturing technologies in the UK.

The new centre is a re-development of the Mercury Centre, located within the university’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Inside the new centre, new equipment for a range of advanced manufacturing technologies has been installed, including facilities for 3D printing, functional coatings and surface treatment.

3D printers have been used for more than a decade, but they are increasingly being used to make end products. The Department of Materials Science and Engineering has been using 3D printing technology for the last four years. It has produced artificial knee and hip replacements, lightweight hinges for the aerospace industry, and brackets for Formula One cars but the new investment means it has the capability to make larger parts.

While mass-production is unlikely to be replaced by 3D printing on a wide scale, factories are already using 3D printers alongside milling machines, foundries and plastic injection-moulding equipment.

Sheffield University works with British manufacturing giants Rolls Royce, Boeing and Airbus, but hopes to work with other companies wanting to take advantage of the technology and explore the benefits it can offer.

Dr Iain Todd, director of the Mercury Centre, said: “We are helping companies to adopt these technologies by offering them access to our research facilities and the opportunity to explore the business benefits.

“We can provide a phased approach, beginning with an initial investigation of business needs and exploratory tests, through to long term-product or process optimisation,” he added.

George Archer