Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Manufacturing and On-Wing Technology
The University of Nottingham
University of Nottingham



Advanced Manufacturing Processes 

The University Technology Centre (UTC) in Manufacturing has a good capability on advanced manufacturing technologies such as conventional machining, waterjet milling/cutting, pulsed laser ablation, ultrasonic polishing, as well as in-depth materials properties characterisation (SEM, XRD, EBSD, TEM, Raman Spectroscopy, Micromechanics test) after machining.

The surface integrity and machining processes of relevant materials such as Superalloys, Composites, Biomaterials, Thermal Barrier Coatings, etc. are part of our research field. Innovative monitoring of manufacturing processes using a wide range of sensing solutions (force cells, accelerometers, acoustic emission, laser, strain gauges, PVDF, high speed imaging systems, etc.) have also been developed.

Our group has extensive experience in investigating workpiece surface integrity after material removal operations and understanding the phenomenological aspects related to surface deterioration. This places our research group at the forefront of research in manufacturing technology with unique opportunities to develop next-generation manufacturing processes.







Research and Developement List

Here you can find information about our projects. 


  • Surface Integrity Analysis of Machined Parts 







Surface Integrity refers to the alteration of machined surfaces compared to those of the bulk material, in terms of metallurgical, mechanical and chemical properties. 

Exceeding particular surface anomalies limits can lead to a decline in service performance, this can be from failure modes such as fatigue. 

Surface inspections are performed to ensure the absence of defects (such as cracking, high lapping or plucking) on machined surfaces and to provide “damage free” surfaces for improved fatigue performance, which is of the highest priority for aerospace components.



  • Advanced Machining Capability for Aerospace and "Difficult-to-cut" Materials







Machining of complex and/or light-weight aerospace components made of Ni/Ti Superalloys require the use of innovative machining techniques to address key challenges such as surface integrity, dynamic behaviour, and accelerated tool wear. 

In addition to developing innovative and patented tooling technologies for machining complex profiles in aerospace alloys, we have expertise in process parameter selection based on surface integrity analysis, part and machine tool dynamics. 

Extensive experience also exists in evaluation of machining cutting fluids. 



  • Abrasive Waterjet Machining 







The UTC research team has extensive experience in performing experimental and analytical/finite element modelling of Abrasive Waterjet Machining (e.g. through cutting, milling, cleaning) of a wide range of materials for the manufacture of high value-added components for aerospace, medical and tooling industries.



  • Challenges in bone cutting and the novel solutions


bone-1-30 (2)




Bone cutting is an important procedure in most surgery operations, surface/tool damages, high cutting temperature/force need to be avoided. Studying and modelling bone cutting chip formation mechanism is important to design tools and optimise the surgery process.

The UTC has investigated and modelled the chip formation mechanism in bone cutting process while a wavelet-based process monitoring process was proposed with AE sensory measure for monitoring bone cutting process and support the understanding of the cutting phenomena on this unique material. We also proposed a novel design of a milling cutter, which includes on the back of main cutting edge a succession of micro-cutting edges arranged on an Archimedes spiral that allows the limitation of surface damage. The tool benefits with high cutting efficiency, smooth surface, low cutting force and temperature. 



  • Laser Ablation 




Overlapped Craters on Supperalloy



PLA process modelling



Micromachining of TBC via PLA


Pulsed Laser Ablation for micromachining applications has gained an enormous following in recent years due to their ability to machine virtually any material, producing features with resolution on the orders of micrometres while simultaneously causing small thermal and surface damage to the workpiece.

Various projects related to the use of PLA for micromachining of hard-to-cut materials (i.e. Superalloys, ceramics), as well as modelling to achieve in-process control of the removal process, are currently being investigated at the UTC. 

Coating Technology represents a key area in the aerospace industry, demanding constant improvements to keep pace with recent trends in modern aeroengine design. In order to achieve a higher control on coating specific properties to match any particular application, it is essential to gain a fundamental understanding on behaviour of the material and its response to external stimuli.



  • Machining of Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs)






 Frames from the high speed imaging system showing the cutting mechanism for different fibre orientation.

Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs) have been an important research field within the aerospace industry in these last years. The anisotropic, heterogeneous, brittle and hard nature of these materials challenges the machining process in terms of surface characterisation and tool design.

Different projects where the fundamentals of cutting and surface characterisation are studied followed with the development of novel cutting tools.



  • Customised micro-patterning of diamond structures for precision tooling application





Micro-pattern Polycrystalline Diamond (PCD) tools for grinding and dressing applications.

The limitations of conventional machining methods with undefined cutting edges on the prediction of the impressions left on the work surface are directly associated to the inherent stochastic nature of the abrasive particles with regard to their size and protrusion, shape, location and spacing.

An innovative approach of engineered (super)abrasive tools based on the generation of controlled-shape micro-feature arrangements on PCD and CVD diamond structures with pulse laser ablation has been taken to overcome the randomness associated with the material removal process. This concept opens the door to the customisation of precision tooling for specific applications (drilling, dressing, grinding, etc.) and difficult-to-machine workpiece materials.



  • Coating Technology







Coating Technology represents a key area in the aerospace industry, demanding constant improvements to keep pace with recent trends in modern aeroengine design. In order to achieve a higher control on coating specific properties to match any particular application, it is essential to gain a fundamental understanding on behaviour of the material and its response to external stimuli.

The UTC has been involved in a number of projects to perform advanced characterization of Thermal Barrier Coatings (routinely used in aeroengines), as well as currently developing new technology to allow in-situ repair of delaminated coatings from within the engine.



  • Rapid Microstructural Appraisal with Electrochemical Jet Processing






Orientation affects application-defining properties of crystalline materials, therefore information in this regard is highly-prized. Conventional microstructural analysis methods, such as electron backscatter diffraction, are currently incompatible with high-throughput manufacturing due to large time and cost penalties involved.

This project applies electrochemical jet processing (EJP), coupled with accurate topographic acquisition, to rapidly characterise crystallographic texture in different engineering materials. Implementation of EJP can allow localised dissolution to be anisotropic and dependent on etch-rate selectivity, defined by the crystallography. EJP therefore can generate complex, but characteristic topographies. Through rapid surface processing and analysis, textural information can be elucidated and resolved over limited timescales and intervention. 



  • Multiple Electrical Removal of Locked In Nuts (MERLIN)


The project Multiple Electrical Removal of Locked In Nuts (MERLIN) is a R&D project led by the University Of Nottingham and initiated by Rolls-Royce Repair & Overhaul which aims to improve the removal process of seized fasteners on aerospace components.

A seized fastener can result in highly unpredictable disassembly in terms of removal times, procedure, equipment, and risk. Coupled with recent engine design changes seizer is expected to increase in occurrence further cementing the need for a system capable of efficient removal. The aim of this project is to increase predictability of fastener removal, reduce overhaul and repair lead time, and efficiently remove fasteners in difficult to reach locations.

An innovative means to remove fasteners adaptable to any given component and scenario was developed and tested, and further work will result in a single-step, mistake-proof, and highly optimised device. Once developed, the system will be invaluable to the repair and overhaul industry as a means to significantly decrease cost, time, and risk, and it is expected there will be significant market demand in other industrial sectors such as the automotive industry.



University Technology Centre in Manufacturing and On-Wing Technology

Faculty of Engineering
Jubilee Campus