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University of Sheffield's AMRC to build 'Factory 2050'

10 June 2013

The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has secured funding for a new £43m state-of-the-art research factory.

Concept design by Bond Bryan Architects of the AMRC Factory 2050
Concept design by Bond Bryan Architects of the AMRC Factory 2050

The AMRC Factory 2050 will be the UK’s first fully reconfigurable assembly and component manufacturing facility for collaborative research, capable of rapidly switching production between different high-value components and one-off parts.

The creation of the new facility is supported by a £10m grant from the Research Partnership Investment Fund, managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

Leading manufacturers, including Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Spirit AeroSystems, are also committed to supporting the project.

Professor Keith Ridgway, Executive Dean of the University of Sheffield AMRC, said the facility will be the most advanced factory in the world.

"It will give us a home for the research and demonstration work associated with building the next generation of aircraft and energy technologies," he says. "The aim is to be able to manufacture any component as a one-off, and instantaneously switch between components. This will be a totally reconfigurable factory, one of the goals of the advanced manufacturing research strategy."

The AMRC Factory 2050 will combine technologies including advanced robotics, flexible automation, unmanned workspace, off-line programming in virtual environments linked to plug-and-play robotics, 3D printing from flexible automated systems, man-machine interfaces, and new programming and training tools. Around 50 researchers and engineers will work in the new facility.

The building will have an area of around 4,500 sqm, and will be built to BREEAM 'Excellent' environmental standards. It will be constructed largely from glass, to showcase the advanced manufacturing technologies being developed within. The location is yet to be decided.

Around 50 researchers and engineers will work in the new facility, which has a scheduled completion date by the end of 2014.

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