OPEN MIND becomes Tier 1 member at the AMRC

28 June 2016

OPEN MIND Technologies has now been awarded Tier 1 membership status at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). The globally renowned research facility has invited OPEN MIND to enhance its membership status following a number of successful collaborative projects that have been undertaken during OPEN MIND's four year tenure as an AMRC Tier 2 member.

The AMRC Factory of the Future work shop floor. 

The AMRC in Rotherham near Sheffield, UK, was initially founded in 2001 as collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Boeing with support from Yorkshire Forward and the European Regional Development Fund. It now has over 80 industrial partners that include Boeing, Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Airbus and of course OPEN MIND Technologies. The centre acts as a support mechanism for the aerospace and other high-value advanced manufacturing sectors, driving technology brands such as Mitsubishi, DMG Mori, Nikken, NCMT, Renishaw, Starrag and many others to develop innovations that enable OEMs to hit their targets. Targets that will primarily be to manufacture components and assemblies faster and more efficiently without increasing the shop floor plant list.

To put this philosophy into perspective, by 2032 it is estimated the global aerospace industry will demand 29,000 new large civil airliners, 24,000 business jets and 5,800 regional aircraft valued at over US$5 trillion - a potential market value of around US$600bn for the UK over the next 20 years. The industry is of such importance to the UK economy that the government has committed £10bn (US$15bn) over the next ten years to developing the industry. An element of government strategy involves supporting innovation centres such as the AMRC, and in turn, the AMRC is driving innovation within the aerospace industry to ensure it achieves these targets. Now, OPEN MIND has its seat at the twice-yearly board meetings to discuss the next series of development programs.

What Happens On The AMRC Shop-Floor?

The shop floor at the AMRC is regarded as the industry test bed for the next generation of production technology. Machine tools provided by either the machine tool manufacturer or OEM and new technology such as cutting fluids; cutting tools, workholding and toolholding technology, CAM software and machining strategies as well as new material compositions are all tested to the limit on the AMRC's state of the art machines.

To ensure smooth up-scaling from research to full production, the AMRC clones the manufacturing environment of the OEM for test purposes. For example, the AMRC has a large bed WFL turning centre for producing under carriage components for Messier Dowty, a DMG Mori NT5400 and NT6600 as used for engine case production at Rolls Royce and a Starrag STC1250 and Ecospeed for processing BAE components, as just a few examples.

The OPEN MIND Involvement...

The cost of Tier 1 membership at the AMRC is £200,000 per year, something that demonstrates OPEN MIND's investment and commitment to winning a share of the UK's potential US$600bn aerospace sector over the next 20 years. Commenting upon the new membership status, OPEN MIND Technologies Technical Sales Manager, Mr Matthew Coulson says: "We have committed considerable resources to the AMRC in terms of the three seats of our hyperMILL software and one day a week technical support. This resource commitment will be of benefit to ourselves, as well as the AMRC, as we are already working on cutting-edge projects with some of the aerospace OEMs. Committing our effort to these OEMs could potentially lead to OPEN MIND Technologies supplying hyperMILL CAM software to some of the largest aerospace manufacturers in the world."

Whilst the details of the research projects cannot be fully disclosed, OPEN MIND has already been involved in benchmarking trials to measure toolpath capability and optimisation of CAM systems through hyperMILL against CNC control units. Other on-going projects include the development of new CAM strategies and feature enhancements to deliver productivity benefits to different aerospace manufacturers whilst other programs are evolving around the utilisation of extremely complex multi-function cutting tools that demand specialist CAM support. Commenting upon the projects, Mr Coulson says: "The technical staff and academics at the AMRC are the world leaders in the aerospace industry and they are driving tomorrow's technology in this multi-billion pound industry. At this upper echelon of manufacturing, we are being challenged every week to work with the most cutting-edge technology. Being able to participate in this work with hyperMILL CAM solutions is an exciting challenge."

OPEN MIND's Mr Coulson has been working closely with the AMRC's Aerofoil Technical Lead, Mr Tom McCready to deliver solutions to the global aerospace community for over a year. Commenting upon using OPEN MIND's hyperMILL software, Mr McCready says: "OPEN MIND's hypermill provides a leading industry CAM solution, I have been principally utilising the functionality for multi-blade components. The software is easy to use and good quality tool paths can be created and computed quickly, the tool axis control allows the programmer to intelligently define axis reversal and other common surface issue positions. Whilst the analysis tools allows the programmer to anticipate issues prior to machining trials. Overall the availability of the software within the AMRC has helped drive forward our capability."

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