GKN Aero and Sheffield Uni Establish RAEng Research Chair to Progress Additive Manufacture

GKN Aerospace is to sponsor a five year Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) research chair, based at the University of Sheffield. The chair is focused on harnessing and developing the extraordinary potential of additive manufacture (AM) for aerospace and other high value industrial sectors.

The GKN Aerospace RAEng chair in Additive Manufacture and Advanced Structural Metallics will have three fundamental aims: to assist in the industrialisation of the current state-of-the-art technology as GKN moves towards production; to develop the required technology to enable the integration of materials and processes, extending the application of AM in the short term; to create entirely innovative processes and materials that will carry industry well beyond what is currently possible.

Russ Dunn, Senior Vice President Engineering & Technology, explains: “AM technologies promise a paradigm shift in engineering design and materials. We will be able to create previously impossible or totally uneconomical shapes, with little or no material wastage, and in the longer term we will be able to develop completely new materials and structures fully optimised for the role they perform. This new chair will build on GKN’s existing developments in additive manufacture and will sit at the heart of work to ensure UK industry continues to be a pioneering force in this global revolution in engineering.”

Professor Iain Todd has been nominated for the Chair. Professor Todd is recognised as a leading academic researcher in the fields of novel processing and alloys. He has led research into additive manufacture at the University of Sheffield since its commencement in 2006 and has been a driving force in the growth of its world-leading manufacturing research facility, The Mercury Centre. The current university AM research portfolio includes work on the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) supported, GBP15M Horizon Programme, led by GKN Aerospace, as well as collaborative research with organisations such as the Culham Centre for Fusion Engineering and CERN.

Professor Todd comments: “I’m delighted and honoured to be appointed to this prestigious role and look forward to working with GKN Aerospace and the Royal Academy of Engineering in promoting, researching and helping to drive this hugely exciting and disruptive manufacturing technology forwards. This is a very exciting time for advanced manufacturing and materials research in the UK. My role will be to strengthen the link between industry and academia in these fields and to transfer the engineering and scientific breakthroughs at the University level to industrial practice helping to drive productivity and competitiveness.”

Professor Ric Parker CBE FREng, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research and Secondments Committee, says: “We are delighted to support this Chair as part of the University of Sheffield’s ongoing and productive collaboration with GKN. Additive manufacturing is an important area for research and development, which has enormous potential to improve industrial processes and UK productivity in the future.”

GKN Aerospace, the University of Sheffield and the Royal Academy of Engineering will make a combined investment worth GBP1m to support the chair over the five years, with the GKN Aerospace investment including funding for an additional 10 PhD students to support Professor Todd and the team of over 20 senior research staff already operating at the university.

GKN Aerospace has an established relationship with the University of Sheffield, most recently through the Horizon AM programme where the university, Renishaw and Delcam are partners. GKN Aerospace also supports PhD and EngD programmes at the university and provides student placements.

GKN Aerospace is also the industrial sponsor of a five year RAE Chair based at the University of Bath and focused on advancing the manufacture of aerospace composites.

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