New home for AMRC Composite Centre

12 June 2012

The new home for the University of Sheffield AMRC Composite Centre is now open for business, hosting a growing range of state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment for use in collaborative research.

Previously based in the original AMRC building on the Advanced Manufacturing Park, the Composite Centre now has bespoke facilities in a 1,800 sq m extension to the AMRC Factory of the Future. The University of Sheffield (TUS) explains that construction of the extension was funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the UK Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).

According to TUS, the new facility allows the AMRC Composite Centre to provide a full range of design, manufacturing, assembly and structural testing services for advanced composite materials. The Composite Centre also works with complex hybrid components and systems, which require manufacturing expertise in both composite and metallic structures.

They explain that the new centre includes a general workshop and a controlled environment with high-spec clean rooms. It is equipped with a growing selection of state-of-the-art design, development and processing equipment, including an automated fibre placement robot, 5-axis machining centres, filament winding machine, and selection of autoclaves and ovens.

"We are very pleased to announce the new equipment coming in to our new facility," says Richard Scaife, AMRC Composite Centre Manager. "This greatly increases the range and flexibility of the resources available for the manufacture of complex high-fidelity composite parts."

The new equipment includes an upgrade to the AMRC's fibre placement robot. Using such robots to automate the production of composite parts can help ensure consistent high quality of production, and reduce material waste.

The robot now boasts a new four-tow head provided by member-company Automated Dynamics. The head, which TUS believe to be the first of its kind in the UK, will allow more complex parts to be produced without human intervention.

"The new Automated Dynamics fibre placement head will allow the AMRC to remain at the cutting-edge of carbon fibre composite material production, and is vital to projects we are currently pursuing," says Scaife. "By adding this head to our already existing in-situ thermoplastic, automated tape laying and 12-tow ITC thermoset heads, we have increased the versatility and overall efficiency of the machine, allowing us to develop solutions that were previously unattainable."

"The AMRC has been a valuable partner with Automated Dynamics for many years, and we are proud to have added this new fibre placement head to the capabilities of the Composite Centre," said Robert J. Langone, President of Automated Dynamics. "The centre is always at the leading edge of innovation in our industry, and knowing that our machines help make that happen is rewarding for the entire Automated Dynamics team."

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