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Sheffield secures major role in Chancellor’s new national materials institute

posted 4 Dec 2014, 06:37 by RiDO Rotherham   [ updated 4 Dec 2014, 06:42 ]
Sheffield is set to play a major role in a new, national advanced material science institute,
announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in his Autumn Statement.

Both the University of Sheffield and its Adavanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with 
Boeing will share the £235 million funding package for what will be known as the Sir Henry Royce
Institute for Advanced Material Science.

A further £61 million has been allocated to the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, of which the
AMRC is a leading member.

Much of the AMRC’s work in the Sir Henry Royce Institute is expected to focus on developments in 
powder metallurgy, aimed at improving the quality and capabilities of the technology, so that it
can be more widely used in manufacturing.

Professor Keith Ridgway CBE, Executive Dean of the AMRC, said: “The Chancellor’s announcement is
further confirmation of the Sheffield region’s place at the forefront of developing technology so
that it can give UK manufacturers a global competitive edge.

“There has been a lot of hype around some technologies involving powdered metals, but there are
genuine practical opportunities, particularly if we can improve the quality of powders and processes.

“That is the sort of work we plan to be carrying out, thanks to this announcement.”

The AMRC will work closely with industrial partners, including local manufacturers, on programmes which
are likely to focus on developing metal powders, powder quality and production and component
manufacturing technologies which use powdered metals such as Metal Injection Moulding (MIM), Additive
Layer Manufacturing (ALM) and Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP).

All three technologies were highlighted at a recent conference, run by the AMRC-based National Metals
Technology Centre (NAMTEC), as offering unique opportunities for manufacturers.

The same conference heard that companies’ abilities to seize those opportunities depended on whether 
they could source ‘clean’ powders, with high surface quality, defined particle sizes and guaranteed flow 
rates – key issues that are likely to be addressed by the Sir Henry Royce Institute’s work in the 
Sheffield region.

If solutions can be found to those quality issues, the potential for powder metallurgy technologies is
set to increase in fields like aerospace – where the AMRC already has a well-established track record
–and healthcare  – where its recently established Medical AMRC is already making inroads.