£92m investment in UK manufacturing hubs
The first of the two Hubs is The EPSRC Manufacturing Hub in Future Liquid Metal Engineering led by Professor Zhongyun Fan at Brunel University.
The UK metal casting industry adds £2.6bn per year to the UK economy, employs 30,000 people, produces 1.14m tons of metal castings per year and underpins the competitive position of every sector of UK manufacturing.
However, the industry faces severe challenges, including increasing energy and materials costs, tightening environmental regulations and a short supply of skilled people. The Future Liquid Metal Engineering Hub will address these challenges.
Impact of the Hub will initially be in the UK automotive industry and its supply chain and then the wider transportation industry. The Hub will be a technology proving ground, and will provide: shortened lead time from technology concept to industrial production; advanced manufacturing technologies to provide technological advantages over competitors; recycling-friendly advanced metallic materials with reduced cost; and improved sustainability due to reduced CO2 emissions, conservation of natural resources and consequently reduced environmental impact.
This is expected to make a major contribution to rebalancing the UK economy. Further economic impact will be through retaining and recycling aluminium scrap into high value automotive castings, extrusions and sheet for lightweight vehicles with an opportunity to add £800m in terms of added value each year.
The second hub is and The EPSRC National Hub in High Value Photonic Manufacturing led by Professor Sir David Payne at the University of Southampton, which aims to underpin the growth of the UK's £10bn photonics industry and support the £600bn of UK manufacturing output that depends on photonics.
It will do this by improving existing manufacturing processes for production of photonics components; supplying prototype components and sub-systems to their designs; and being a one-stop-shop for trialling user ideas and developing new manufacturing processes
The primary economic impact of the Hub will be the creation of photonics manufacturing processes that will enable commercialisation of emerging photonics technologies. This will result in new products and services and new UK manufacturing jobs, both directly in the photonics industry and in the industries enabled by photonics.
Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's chief executive, said: “These two new manufacturing Hubs will help manufacturing industries respond to the opportunities and drivers in the sector. We are confident universities and industry collaborators will embrace this new opportunity to invest in the future of UK manufacturing through research.”