Strathclyde research centre hails £500,000 tech investment

A University of Strathclyde research centre specialising in innovative manufacturing technologies has hailed a £500,000 investment that could lead to major implications for manufacturers.
Laurie da Silva, research associate at the AFRC. Picture: ContributedLaurie da Silva, research associate at the AFRC. Picture: Contributed
Laurie da Silva, research associate at the AFRC. Picture: Contributed

The Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) at Inchinnan has received two rotary friction welding machines to develop new ways to reduce materials wastage and production time across UK manufacturing.

The machines, which represent a combined investment of around £500,000, will provide efficient, low cost solutions for firms requiring high integrity manufacturing processes in sectors such as aerospace, automotive and oil and gas.

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They were originally held in the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry.

AFRC staff aim to integrate this new capability with other advanced manufacturing techniques to explore wider opportunities for rotary friction welding, which is highly efficient and generates an enhanced integrity join.

The centre has already received significant interest in this new welding capability from within its network.

Laurie da Silva, research associate at the AFRC, who is leading the development, said: “Welding is often regarded in the manufacturing industry as an easy place for a material to fail. However, rotary friction welding generates a very strong, high integrity joint for metallic materials.

“We’re working with our members and partners on an industrial research programme that will demonstrate the considerable potential of this technology.

“The process is generating lots of interest among our members and partners and presents significant opportunities for our customers.”

Michael Ward, research director at the AFRC, added that the use of this technology in conjunction with the centre’s expertise in materials integrity would have a positive impact on UK industry.

He said: “Over time, this unique combination will provide more manufacturing businesses in differing sectors with the support they need in order to embrace rotary friction welding.”

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AFRC is part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult group to advance manufacturing in the UK.

HVM Catapult chief executive Dick Elsy said: “The relationship between the centres that make up the HVM Catapult gives us the opportunity to move vital equipment between locations to where it is most needed.

“That is not just good news for the businesses that will use it, it is good news for the taxpayer who can be confident that we are working to get the very best value from their investment in the HVM Catapult.”