Sell-out success for AMRC’s first Subtractive Manufacturing Showcase

26 May 2023

The importance of subtractive manufacturing for the UK was highlighted at the AMRC's first showcase event for the key technology area, with organisers hoping the day will become a biennial fixture. 

More than 100 people attended the sold out event, hearing from machining experts at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) on recent achievements made within subtractive manufacturing, the challenges faced by the industry and how it can adapt towards a digitally enhanced, sustainable future. 

The engineer-to-engineer led day was held across two South Yorkshire AMRC locations; the Factory of the Future building and Knowledge Transfer Centre. It included a keynote address from Boeing Sheffield’s senior manufacturing leader, James Needham and shopfloor demonstrations showcasing the capabilities the AMRC has to offer. 

Presentations on the day delved in the detail of the different subtractive processes and technologies available to businesses of all sizes at the AMRC, including virtual machining, process monitoring and driving towards more sustainable ways of working in the push towards net zero, as well as how this work makes an impact within industrial companies wanting to improve aerostructures and future propulsion. 

Phil Kirkland, head of the machining group at the University of Sheffield AMRC, said the event was organised in direct response to industrial appetite following feedback from attendees at the AMRC’s last annual Tech Fellows Conference keen to know more about the AMRC’s  capabilities in this key technology area.

“Subtractive manufacturing is one of the foundations of the AMRC and this event was an opportunity to showcase our facilities and show people what we are doing during this exciting time,” added Phil. 

“It was also a chance for people to understand the challenges of this industry and how we can adapt towards a digitally enhanced, sustainable future. 

“We wanted this event to be something that was a little bit different and to be engineer-to-engineer led - and I believe this event was a huge success. It’s something we want to do again and we want it to be better. I want people to go away, look at their diary for the subtractive manufacturing showcase day at the AMRC and say ‘this is a must’.” 

Boeing’s Sheffield factory produces actuation parts for the 737 aircraft, and uses a range of subtractive manufacturing processes. James Needham, senior manufacturing leader for Boeing Sheffield, highlighted the important role the manufacturing and buying of metallic machined parts continues to play in the aerospace sector. 

James said: “It was an honour to join this event and hear the AMRC highlight the importance of subtractive manufacturing, while also contributing our own story about the role this sector has to play in aerospace manufacturing.  As long-standing partners of the AMRC and our Boeing Sheffield factory in close proximity, we continue to benefit from the expertise and knowledge available here. 

“Having worked at the AMRC for more than a decade before joining Boeing, it was great to be back in a room full of people I have shared parts of my career with and it’s brought back some great memories.” 

David Curtis, professor of subtractive manufacturing, research and technology manager for the University of Sheffield AMRC, said: “The AMRC is the lead High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult centre for subtractive manufacturing and we wanted to open up our doors for people to see the work we have done over the last couple of years and the work we are doing now.

“We are here to deliver impact through implementation and we have become quite the growing network of research into subtractive manufacturing processes and supporting technology.  We want to see this continue to grow.”

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