The University of Sheffield (Sheffield, U.K.) Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) reported on June 6 that its Composite Centre is now open for business in a new facility. The facility hosts 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 1,800m2/19,375-ft2 extension to the AMRC Factory of the Future. Construction of the extension was funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the U.K. Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS).
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 that require manufacturing expertise in both composite and metallic structures.
The new center 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 fiber placement (AFP) robot, 5-axis machining centers, 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 a major upgrade to the AMRC's AFP 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, believed to be the first of its kind in the U.K., will allow more complex parts to be produced without human intervention.
"The new Automated Dynamics fiber placement head will allow the AMRC to remain at the cutting-edge of carbon fiber 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."