Nottingham University has opened a new research facility, the Advanced Manufacturing Building (AMB), which houses the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing (IfAM) dedicated to research and teaching facilities for design and manufacturing.
IfAM brings together the research activities of the Advanced Manufacturing, 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing and Polymer Composites Research Groups under one roof with over 200 academics, researchers and PhD students, providing a focal point for manufacturing innovation. This also includes the Centre for Additive Manufacturing (CfAM), the Centre for Aerospace Manufacturing and the Precision Manufacturing Centre, which all deliver a range of collaborative projects funded by UK Research Councils, European Framework programmes and industrial partners.
Researchers from the Advanced Manufacturing Building also play a major role in two new spin-out companies: Added Scientific, an additive manufacturing consultancy; and Taraz Metrology, a new supplier of metrology and quality inspection technologies for the AM market.
Nottingham University already works with many world-class companies, including Siemens, Airbus and BMW, to help them develop next generation manufacturing technologies with research into 3D printing, artificial intelligence, collaborative robotics, data analytics, material science and manufacturing systems and processes.
The building was officially opened by Juergen Maier, Chief Executive of Siemens UK, who said: “This new facility heralds the start of something truly special for Nottingham, and will help place the region and indeed the country at the cutting edge of digital manufacturing. Why is this important? It’s important because our future lies in driving a new technological revolution focusing on AI, automation, robotics and 3d printing as well as many other new exciting technologies. It will ensure graduates are at the cutting edge and ready to take up the high productivity, high wage jobs of the future.”
However, there is a danger that smaller companies can be left behind in this kind of technology drive so IFAM has worked with the Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing to set up another project, Digital Manufacturing on a Shoestring, to explore how SMEs can benefit from low cost data analytics and smart technologies.
IfAM also recently introduced the Digital Manufacturing Training System for SMEs (Digit-T) – an EU-funded bespoke online training programme tailored to help SMEs better understand digital manufacturing and its benefits, and how to start applying the new technologies in their own companies. In addition, the Nottingham Manufacturing Network is also based at the new AMB and helps small manufacturers in Nottinghamshire.
Professor Svetan Ratchev, Director of IfAM, explained: “Skills challenges remain a key issue for many manufacturing businesses in the UK, due to factors such as the fast pace of technology development, an ageing workforce and a shortage of graduates with relevant multidisciplinary skills and experience. The Institute is helping to shape the manufacturing research agenda nationally and internationally and is supplying the technology and specialist skills to support key industrial sectors and encourage the growth of emerging industries.”