Casings are key aero engine components with complex design geometries that are typically made from high value materials and required to withstand ever more demanding operating conditions.

The AMRC Casing Platform Group began carrying out research into ways of meeting the continually increasing challenges of machining casings in 2005.

Since then, it has developed a range of new machining strategies, and tooling and work holding technologies in order to optimise the machining of casings, identify best practice and enable AMRC partners to minimise machining costs.

Partners, who include OEMs, tooling, CAD/CAM and Machine tool providers and organisations whose primary product are other aerospace components, have all benefitted from the Group’s technological developments.

Meanwhile, collaboration with Groups involved in other areas of research, such as process monitoring and modelling, machinability and dynamics, has led to even greater understanding of how aerospace components can best be machined.

One the highest impact projects involved seven years of research with an AMRC partner. It has led to the development of a number of new casing manufacturing technologies and a state of the art machining strategy which the partner rates as world class and enabling it to develop its position as a global leader.

Using that experience as a model, the casing team is now focusing on not only developing technology but also transferring it into production and is working with several partners and their supply chains to incorporate best practice developed at the AMRC into their production processes.


The casing team’s research is designed to develop technology and processes that mean the AMRC can be a single resource for partners who want to develop world class casing machining solutions for entire components or individual features. As part of this strategy, the team is currently working on

  • Improving metal removal rates.
  • Replicating production challenges by producing multiple components simultaneously.
  • Casing technologies that use less material as a result of improved part location, machining to optical scanned datums and meeting challenges posed by new materials.
  • New work holding technologies that reduce the material needed for fixtures.
  • Developing tooling designed specifically for casing geometries.
  • Feature specific tooling development.
  • Transferring all research to industrial partners.


The Casing Platform Group aims to

  • Remain the go to choice for partners’ casing component specific research and development.
  • Challenge existing, state of the art requirements for tooling, parameters, machine tool platforms, work holding systems and dynamic performance.
  • Further improve state of the art casing machining techniques to give partners access to world leading casing machining strategies.
  • Develop new technologies to advance casing machining.
  • Provide a return on investment for partners and target applications which offer them the highest potential benefits.


The Mori Seiki NVL1350MC is a two axis, high precision, high rigidity, vertical lathe with milling capability and was specifically designed for machining flanged casings. It has a large, wide work envelope with a maximum turning O/D of 1600mm and 1300 Z axis travel, which, coupled with the Octagonal Ram (ORC) design, ensures maximum rigidity in both turning and milling applications.

The NVL1350MC can carry out two axis milling and drilling of flanged casings. The ORC rotary tool spindle has a built in motor and a maximum spindle speed of 3000RPM.

The NVL1350MC can turn large components, weighing up to 8000 kilograms, with maximum spindle speed of 400 RPM. The machine’s column design allows the OCR to be positioned close to the component and the OCR ram’s 800mm of Z axis travel eliminates the need for long tool assemblies.

Starrag ZT

The Starrag ZT1000 is a twin pallet 5-axis machining centre with the options of a standard or high-speed A axis head attachment, giving maximum spindle speeds of 6000 and 24000 RPM respectively. The ZT1000 has a maximum working envelope of X2000mm Y1600mm Z1600mm and its twin pallet design makes the machining platform highly versatile. Up to 50 tools can be stored in the Automatic Tool Changer and the spindle speeds allow “best practice” machining solutions to be applied to individual projects, involving, for example, high speed machining with ceramic tooling. The simultaneous 5-axis machining capability and large working envelope makes the Starrag ZT1000 ideally suited for precision milling of casings.

DMG DMU 160 Duo Block FD

The DMG DMU 160 Duo Block FD is a five axis machine tool with turning capability that can complete machine casings components. Using a single machine tool to make complex components means datum control errors can be minimised and accuracy maintained. As the platform mirrors that used by our partners and their supply chains, we are able to transfer developments involving key features or components directly to industry.


Read more about our T900 combustion casing project.


  • Partner funded projects (65%)
  • Non partner funded projects (20%)
  • Industrial masters student supervision (5%)
  • Direct and Board generic research projects (10%)


James Needham

James Needham is the Technical Lead for the Casing Platform Group. Before joining the AMRC in 2006 James gained industrial experience with local manufacturing engineering companies as well as completing an international graduate training scheme at a worldwide stainless steel provider. During his time at the AMRC, James has worked on a wide range of industrially focused projects, centred on casing applications. These have included process development for the introduction of new components, cost reduction exercises for OEM partners and their supply chains, research into the general machinability of casing features, and large SAMULET funded research projects based on the development of sustainable, environmentally friendly and reduced cost components. On an academic level James is working towards an MSc in casing technology, runs the Modern Manufacture programme through one of the AMRC’s principal partners and manages the rest of the casing team.

Dennis Fretwell

Dennis is the Technical Lead for the Group. He brings more than 30 years of engineering experience to the casings team, having worked in various manufacturing sectors, including tool-making and the aerospace sub-contact supply chain. Dennis has more than 20 years experience of using various CAD/CAM packages and has been using Unigraphics NX sofware for over eight years. Since joining the AMRC in 2010 he has worked on industry focused casings projects, defining methods of manufacture, fixture design, stage models and NC programs. Dennis also provides technical support to other engineers and is making an increasing contribution to projects thanks to his high levels of technical expertise and experience.

Sam Fifield

Sam is a Project Engineer for the Group. Before joining the AMRC in 2012 he completed a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds and then worked as an intern with the University of Leeds’ Medical Engineering Faculty, focusing on the wear of prosthetic hip joints. Sam has been involved in a variety of casing projects at the AMRC, developing his manufacturing research knowledge and skills. He has also gained a greater appreciation of manufacturing processes by working on projects with the AMRC’s industrial partners and is currently working towards Chartered Engineer status.

Ben Gil

Ben has developed from being an apprentice trainee and a machine operator into a Casings team Project Engineer – all within the AMRC. He led a project which developed a critical, new production strategy and example components. The strategy has become the preferred machining strategy and is now being transferred into production. Ben has made a great start to his Engineering career and can look forward to a bright future within the AMRC.