AMRC Castings, one the research programs within the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing at Britain’s University of Sheffield, recently started up a new foundry it described as the “the first custom-built steel foundry to be commissioned in the U.K. since the early 1980s.” The operation includes two Inductotherm air-melting induction furnaces with a combined capacity of 2.8 metric tons (3 tons), and able to cast parts up to 1,300 kg (1.43 tons.)
The new foundry represents a £600,000 ($780,000) investment by the AMRC into R&D capabilities for collaboration with industrial partners.
AMRC Castings is chartered to develop new castings technologies and provides design and manufacturing consultancy services for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors.
In 2013, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre purchased Castings Technology International and its affiliate Titanium Castings UK Ltd., a research organization with members that include metalcasters, casting industry suppliers, and casting customers, with capabilities in casting design, material development and selection, manufacturing technologies, quality control, and testing and performance. Both CTI and AMRC are located in a research campus in Rotherham, which allowed AMRC to add casting technology to the range of its industrial research portfolio.
A representative of AMRC Castings, Ryan Longden, said the new foundry would be critical to the future of metalcasting in Great Britain. “Keeping the U.K. at the forefront of steel castings technology is the only way to ensure the capability survives,” he stated. “It’s our aim to support steel foundries at home in the U.K. and around the world, and castings users wanting to push the boundaries of current castings processes.”
In particular, the steel foundry will develop collaborative research programs with energy-industry partners. “Using the new facility alongside our MEGAshell® Process allows us to put our technical expertise to full use and conduct pioneering research for the energy sector into producing cast steel components that are more cost and time effective to manufacture,” added Ryan.
MEGAshell is a ceramic shell molding and casting process for oversized castings, making it possible to produce parts up 1.5x1.5x2.0 m, with the dimensional accuracy and surface finish comparable to investment casting. AMRC Castings is the only U.K. operation able to produce a ceramic shell large enough for such research projects, producing specialty cast parts in stainless steel in a one-piece ceramic mold.
The new foundry also will make possible advanced research into new material grades and optimized material chemistries for advanced castings.