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Manufacturing News, December 2017

A £65m manufacturing centre of excellence is to be built near Glasgow Airport, the Scottish government has announced.

 

The National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) aims to support businesses across the country and attract investment. Strathclyde University will be the anchor university for the institute.  The centre will be located at Inchinnan in Renfrewshire, next to Glasgow Airport and the M8.

 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Economy Secretary Keith Brown made the announcement during a visit to Rolls-Royce’s manufacturing facility in Inchinnan.

 

Rolls-Royce is a founding member of the University of Strathclyde’s existing Advanced Forming Research Centre. NMIS is a key part of the Scottish government’s manufacturing action plan, which aims to help Scotland become a world leader in advanced manufacturing.

 

The Scottish government will invest £48m in NMIS, with £8m coming from the University of Strathclyde. Ministers said the new centre would build on the Advanced Forming Research Centre at Inchinnan and the new Lightweight Manufacturing Centre which is due to open in Renfrew next year.

 

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An international research team has developed a new technique for 3D printing stainless steel components with exceptional levels of strength and ductility. Most methods for strengthening metals lead to a reduction in ductility, a situation addressed by the team led by researchers from Birmingham University.

 

The group, which also includes teams from Stockholm University, Sweden and Zhejiang University, China, claims that the research – which is published in Materials Today, represents a significant step forward for the use of 3D printing as a mainstream manufacturing tool.

 

“3D printing…. is known to produce objects with previously inaccessible shapes, and our work shows that it also provides the possibility to produce the next generation of structural alloys with significant improvements in both strength and ductility.” said Birmingham University Researcher Dr Leifeng Liu.

 

According to the team this has been made possible thanks to an ultrafast cooling rate – estimated to range from 1000°C per second to 100million°C per second – something that was not possible in bulk metal production process until the emergence of 3D printing.

 

Metals that are cooled down so quickly result in a so-called non-equilibrium state, allowing for some microstructures like the sub-micro-sized dislocation network, which was revealed in the paper to be the main reason of the imp Improved mechanical properties.

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Growth in UK manufacturing hit a four-year high in November, according to the latest Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).

 

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 58.2 in November, up from 56.6 in October (originally reported as 56.3), its highest level since August 2013.  The index unveils that manufacturing production expanded at the fastest pace since September 2016 and to one of the greatest extents during the past four years.

 

Companies linked this to stronger inflows of new orders, reflecting solid domestic demand and steeper gains in new export business. Some companies noted higher sales to clients in Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East.

The index also shows that the historically weak sterling exchange rate continued to boost export competitiveness (although mentions of this were less prevalent than earlier in the year).

The expansion remained broad-based by subsector. Strong and accelerated growth of production and new orders was registered across the consumer, intermediate and investment goods industries.

Backlogs of work at UK factories increased for the first time in six months during November. Tighter capacity combined with rising demand encouraged companies to increase employment.

The index demonstrates that staffing levels rose for the sixteenth successive month, with the rate of jobs growth the highest since June 2014.

Manufacturers maintained a positive outlook for the sector in November, with over 50% expecting production to be higher in one year’s time. Optimism was linked to company growth plans, capital spending, improving market conditions and efforts to grow client bases.

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Britain’s manufacturers are ending the year with continued improvement in global demand and increased export performance, the EEF’s new survey has revealed.

 

According to the Manufacturing Outlook Q4 survey from the EEF and BDO, UK manufacturers are continuing to ignore the ongoing political uncertainty at home as improved global demand is feeding growth across the supply chain.  This is compensating for weaker UK demand as the squeeze on living standards and Brexit uncertainty continues to take its toll domestically.

 

This strong performance, across all sectors and regions, has led the EEF to upgrade growth forecasts for manufacturing for this year and next, meaning the sector will outperform the economy overall.

And, the positive conditions in the fourth quarter mean that 2017 will be the first since the financial crisis when both output and order balances have been positive in every quarter throughout the year.

The survey shows that the bounce in business conditions seen over the course of this year is driving the need for investment in more capacity to fulfil increasing customer demands.

And the report proves a second successive improvement in investment intentions, with the balance of companies planning more capital expenditure hitting a three and a half year high.

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International metals, industrials and engineering group, Liberty House, has signed a multi-million-pound partnership with the prestigious research centre, the Materials Processing Institute, designed to accelerate the growth of the business through innovation.

 

Liberty House Group, which is already the UK’s fastest-growing industrial enterprise with 5,500 employees, aims to use the Materials Processing Institute’s leading technical and scientific expertise to help it develop advanced manufacturing processes and a new generation of products across its plants in the UK and Australia.

 

The deal will reportedly see the flagship North of England-based innovation centre provide a range of research services to the steel industry giant to help achieve its GREENMETAL vision for competitive, low-carbon, steel and aluminium production.

 

The Institute will help deliver large scale operational efficiency improvements, as well as product and process capability enhancements to Liberty’s operations.  The agreement covers three major research programmes to support the growth and development of the Liberty business.

 

One programme is targeted at Liberty’s Speciality Steels business, based in Stocksbridge near Sheffield, which will benefit from a research programme to enhance capability of super high-quality engineering and aerospace steels.

Another project will target the Liberty OneSteel business in Australia, with a focus on process efficiency improvement, cost reduction, quality and output.

The final strand of the agreement covers the development of an integrated supply chain for high-value plate and offshore steels, made at the Liberty plate mill at Dalzell in Scotland.