Boeing and the University of Sheffield: advancing research in aerospace technology

Boeing and the University of Sheffield: advancing research in aerospace technology

The Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, co-founded by Boeing and the University of Sheffield, has grown from a single building to a world-leading facility in less than 15 years.

This case study orginally appeared on page 39 of the State of the Relationship 2014. The report outlines the state of university-business collaboration in the UK, featuring expert views and over forty case studies. Read the full report.

Boeing co-founded the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in partnership with the University of Sheffield in 2001. It is a proven, effective collaboration between business and academia which has become a model for research centres worldwide because of its industry-led focus.

At the close of the 20th century, University of Sheffield Professor Keith Ridgway and local businessman Adrian Allen began working with Boeing to apply Sheffield’s traditional industrial expertise in metallurgy and engineering to new materials, focusing on machining research. The AMRC was subsequently established as a £15m collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Boeing, with support from Yorkshire Forward and the European Regional Development Fund.

At present, Boeing works with the AMRC to develop advanced manufacturing technologies that will help reduce the time and cost of producing aerospace products while improving their quality and performance. The areas of research capabilities include machining, composites, assembly, structural testing, design and prototyping. The results of the research and development are applied to aerospace manufacturing in the UK and worldwide.

The AMRC partnership with Boeing has grown considerably since it was established, and now has over 70 industrial members – from global leaders such as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Spirit AeroSystems, through to local specialist SMEs. These members help to spur the development of new manufacturing technologies that enhance the competitiveness of the UK’s industry across a broad spectrum of sectors, not only in aerospace but marine, automotive, nuclear and medical as well. The AMRC has worked with hundreds of other companies on specific projects to improve their capabilities and competitiveness.

The University of Sheffield AMRC campus is expansive, having grown from a single building into a worldleading cluster of industry-focused manufacturing R&D centres since its inception less than 15 years ago. Its two core research facilities – the original Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing (launched in 2001), and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (launched in 2009) - are both part of the government-backed High Value Manufacturing Catapult. Other centres on the campus include the Castings Technology International (CTI), the National Metals Technology Centre (Namtec), the AMRC Knowledge Transfer Centre and the new AMRC Training Centre, which provides training in the practical and academic skills that manufacturing companies need to compete globally. Furthermore, the AMRC is currently preparing to expand further with a new state-of-the-art facility: Factory 2050.

Boeing is proud to work with a number of universities in the UK. The company values these relationships highly, as they develop innovative new technology partnerships and business concepts, as well as providing education and training for Boeing employees and potential new recruits.

Boeing’s investment also stimulates new capital investment in the UK industrial base, which support companies in their efforts to maintain a competitive edge.

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