March 1, 2007 — Rolls-Royce PLC has formed two partnerships that will expand the range of work proceeding at the material technology research center at University of Birmingham in England. The first effort addresses casting technology, while the second focuses on process modeling.
The University Technology Center in Materials was established in 1991 and is operated together with Rolls-Royce, a designer and supplier of power systems and services. The new partnerships will involve new, state-of-the-art research facilities, and aims to recruit academic leaders in the field(s) to head the research teams.
The research partnership on casting is being co-funded by Rolls-Royce and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The EPRSC is the British government's leading funding agency for research and training in engineering and the physical sciences.
Leading the casting partnership is Professor Nick Green, who has been appointed the Chair in Casting Technology. He will work as the primary supplier of vital casting manufacturing technology to Rolls-Royce, which operates five foundries for aerospace castings on three continents. The partnership's charter is "both to develop step-change technologies and to provide incremental process improvements to all aspects of moldmaking and casting."
In addition to the University's investment casting research laboratory, the Casting Partnership will be outfitted with a "highly instrumented" production-scale furnace capable of producing single crystal turbine blades for high-temperature jet-engine operation.
For the second partnership, the University of Birmingham, Rolls-Royce, and the modeling software developer ESI-Group, will form a technical consortium to research the simulation of manufacturing processes, with emphasis on welding, casting, heat treatment, and forming. It may also include other manufacturing disciplines.
Also included in the technical consortium as hardware partners are IBM, OCF, and AMD.
For the process modeling research, a state-of-the-art computing and simulation lab has been established in the University's Interdisciplinary Research Centre (IRC) for Net-Shape Manufacturing. This effort is led by Professor Roger Reed, and is focusing on modeling the structural behavior and properties of materials during processing, and as finished components and assemblies.
According to the Rolls-Royce director of Research and Technology, Ric Parker: "Modern manufacturing methods are vital to Rolls-Royce in achieving maximum quality while minimizing the quantity of often-precious and scarce raw materials. Casting is one of the oldest forms of metal forming, yet there are still exciting new technological developments. The combination of modern manufacturing techniques and computers harnessed to provide effective process modeling is unbeatable."