Department to play key role in GKN Aerospace project

GKN's Global Technology CentreThe Department of Materials Science and Engineering will be an integral part of a new partnership led by GKN Aerospace and involving The University of Sheffield. GKN's new Global Technology Centre (GTC) aims to accelerate the adoption of new digital technologies in aerospace manufacturing.

The new centre - funded by a £17m commitment from GKN Aerospace and a £15m commitment from the UK government, through the Aerospace Technology Institute - is expected to open in 2020.

The 10,000 square metre facility will host 300 highly skilled engineers, and will include collaborative space for research and development with academics, the UK’s CATAPULT network and GKN Aerospace’s UK supply chain.

GKN will work with academics from the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and focus on additive manufacturing (AM), advanced composites, assembly and industry 4.0 processes to enable the high rate production of aircraft structures.

Activities will expand to include collaborative research projects, co-location of staff and students from the Faculty and the AMRC to the GTC, and PhD opportunities to develop the talent pipeline into the aerospace industry.

Fan blade made using additive manufacturingThe University of Sheffield has significant experience in working with manufacturers to become more competitive by introducing new technologies and processes proven by research. The Department of Materials Science and Engineering is lead partner in the EPSRC funded project 'Manufacture using Advanced Powder Processes' (MAPP) - a £20m research hub, which focuses on delivering advanced powder processing technologies through creation of new, connected, intelligent, cyber-physical manufacturing environments to achieve ‘right first time' product manufacture.

Moreover, the department is leading Royce@Sheffield, the Advanced Metals Processing research theme for the Henry Royce Institute, the national centre for research and innovation of advanced materials. This represents an investment of £34m to fund the commercialisation of fundamental research into advanced metals processing.

Professor Iain Todd, GKN/Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Additive Manufacturing and Advanced Structural Metallics at the University of Sheffield, said: “We look forward to deepening our partnership with GKN Aerospace and helping them develop new digital and additive manufacturing technologies for the aerospace sector.

“This agreement cements our long-term working relationships in this industry and will create many opportunities for students and graduates wanting to gain experience in the aerospace sector, as well as drive research within the Faculty of Engineering."

Professor Mike Hounslow, Vice-President & Head of Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield, added: "A key strength at the University of Sheffield is our capability to work across all technology readiness levels. The fundamental and experimental research undertaken in the Faculty, combined with the application-driven research at the AMRC is highly effective. This is an attractive proposition for companies such as GKN, as quality, end-to-end research is available from an established and integrated network of experts and facilities."

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy, said: "GKN Aerospace’s new Global Technology Centre further strengthens our aerospace heritage and engineering expertise, and will keep the UK at the forefront of the latest technologies and manufacturing processes for the next-generation of aircraft.

"As the sector moves towards a cleaner, greener and more efficient future, we are partnering with industry through our modern Industrial Strategy and new Aerospace Sector Deal to ensure we have the skills, innovation and supply-chain to continue our world leadership in aviation."