Manufacturing the future – at The University of Nottingham

Polymer Composites Laboratory
17 Mar 2011 15:55:00.000


The University of Nottingham is to lead a new £10m Centre for Innovative Manufacturing, it was announced today (Thursday March 17, 2011).

Working with leading companies in the aerospace, automotive and energy sectors, the Centre will be a national leader for engineering research in the field of composite materials – a critical technology that will help the UK to develop a low-carbon economy.

Composites are widely used in many areas of modern construction and manufacturing because they are lighter and stronger than conventional materials.

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Funding over the next five years includes £4.9m from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with a further £1.8m from eight industry partners: Rolls-Royce, GKN, Airbus, Bentley, Lotus, Caparo, Luxfer and Vestas.

The Centre will work closely with businesses on tackling major research challenges, with the aim of turning ideas into new products and processes ready for the marketplace. It has the backing of National Composites Centre, part of the High Value Manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centres (TIC) which was also announced by the Government on March 17.

Nottingham’s academic partners in the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing are the Universities of Bristol, Cranfield and Manchester.

The Centre will develop new processes to make the next generation of composites cheaper and quicker to manufacture, while increasing efficiency and sustainability. The potential impact is huge – particularly in areas such as lightweight materials for vehicles and transport systems, and in wind and tidal power machinery for the generation of sustainable electricity.

Professor Andy Long of the University of Nottingham, the Director of the new Centre, said: “We are delighted to be leading this exciting initiative. This will underpin our efforts to study and develop the next generation of composites manufacturing processes.

“We have assembled a world class team of academic and industry partners, which will develop fundamental manufacturing science with real industrial impact.”

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing will support emerging science in areas of strategic opportunity for manufacturing. They will feed new ideas and discoveries through to business and Technology and Innovation Centres (TICs), to open up new industries and markets in growth areas.

Professor Chris Rudd, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Transfer and Business Engagement at The University of Nottingham, said: “We welcome the UK government’s latest investments in our manufacturing infrastructure.

“This university plays a key role in driving the development of innovative high value products and processes and we look forward to helping drive future prosperity and sustainable business development.”

The Nottingham centre is one of nine announced today by David Willetts, Universities and Science Minister. Each of the national centres will focus on an emerging area of science, helping generate the new ideas that will fuel growth.

Mr Willetts said: “Partnerships between higher education and industry are increasingly essential drivers of innovation, opportunity and national prosperity. These new centres will combine inventive research and business acumen to develop the high-tech manufacturing industries we need to secure sustainable growth.”

Success with the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing follows another significant step for manufacturing research at The University of Nottingham. January 2011 saw the announcement of a successful bid for a Manufacturing Technology Doctoral Training Centre (DTC), which will provide postgraduate training to the research engineers of the future.

The Manufacturing Technology DTC will train dozens of the brightest postgraduate students to address key challenges in advanced manufacturing engineering. The Engineering Doctorate (EngD) is an alternative to the traditional PhD, being more closely related to the needs of industry and providing a more vocationally orientated doctorate degree, with the student spending a significant proportion of their time working in industry.

Advanced manufacturing is one of the University’s research priority groups, in which a concentration of expertise, collaboration and resources create significant critical mass. Other key research areas at Nottingham include energy, drug discovery, global food security and biomedical imaging.

— Ends —

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at:

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Andy Long, Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 9513779,; or Victoria McGuire, EPSRC Press Office, +44 (0)1793 444267,
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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