The Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre is leading a Europe-wide project to increase the use of lasers to improve manufacturing processes.
The MTC leads a group of 11 research organisations and market-leading companies from across Europe in Project Shark, aimed at encouraging the industrial uptake of laser texturing to speed up and improve manufacturing.
Laser texturing can be used to change the texture or topography of a component to achieve specific functionality, for example, low friction or low adhesion.
The initiative is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for research and innovation. The project’s successful outcome has lowered design and processing barriers, resulting in higher quality and more reliable products and components.
The laser texturing process can be used in a wide variety of industries and can result in lower production costs, faster product development and up to 50 per cent improvement in product performance, depending on the surface texture design used.
Ross Trepleton, chief engineer at the MTC said, “The Shark project allows end-users to test-run the effects of laser surface texturing on their components, significantly reducing risk and cost. In addition, the project reduces the amount of component testing required through the establishment of a knowledge data management system and modelling software. This can provide a cost-model analysis for implementing laser texturing in specific applications.”
Included in the project are the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS Dresden of Germany, Heriot-Watt University, technology providers ATS of the UK, GF Machining Solutions of Switzerland, Sensofar of Spain, SIMTEC of France, and end-users MAN Energy Solutions of Denmark, Johnson & Johnson of Ireland, Sandvik Coromant of Sweden and Unilever of the UK.
The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.
The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.