Integrated Knowledge Centre in Ultra Precision and Structured Surfaces

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: Sch of Applied Sciences


The vision for this IKC is to establish a world leading Centre of Excellence that delivers to UK industry 'disruptive' technologies enabling the development and manufacture of a wide range of next generation products which are dependent on functional ultra precision and structured surfaces.Ultra precision and structured surfaces are pivotal to a range of high technology products. Many next generation products will be reliant on such surfaces which are in increasing demand for components supplying a wide spectrum of markets. These include: optoelectronics and displays, medical devices, aerospace, defence, space and automotive sectors. In combination, the annual turnover of these sectors is over 75 billion in the UK and they represent a major percentage of UK export trade.In order for next generation UK developed products to succeed they must offer greater levels of customer satisfaction through greater functionality and improved performance. Ultra precision and structured surfaces are increasingly being adopted to gain such advantages. Currently UK industry has no obvious research and development partner suitably equipped to support the development of higher performing products through the application of ultra precise, complex and structured surfaces.The goal of the proposed IKC is to support the realisation of UK products having a competitive edge generated through the application of ultra precision and structured surfaces. Without the creation of this IKC to foster and underpin development in ultra precision and structured surfaces, fragmentation of UK effort will occur. The IKC will be tailored to industry's requirements and based amongst its 'customers' since the new surface technologies must steer product design at an early stage; otherwise inventive UK prototypes will rapidly become foreign imported products.Our vision is therefore to provide UK industry with in-depth world class knowledge and a broad range of knowledge transfer services relating to ultra precision and structured surfaces covering both their functional properties and new techniques for their deterministic manufacture.Uniquely this IKC is based around: established collaborations across academia and industry, significant UK and international networks, and most critically, significant existing demands across a wide range of UK companies. With significant facilities already being commissioned, that are able to serve the IKC, some of its foundation is already in place. Significantly the majority of the new equipment is designated to be based at the proposed IKC location with others located at Cranfield and Cambridge. The IKC location is the new first class Optic Technium building that is situated at the heart of the UK opto-electronics manufacturing cluster.Cranfield University has one of the best track records in serving UK businesses with applied research and industrially relevant training, as identified in the Lambert report. With the support of UCL and Cambridge this IKC would cement an internationally credible partnership building on recent EPSRC initiatives. The collaboration between Cranfield, UCL, Cambridge and Optic Technium is not simply a manufactured response to this IKC call. It is based on long standing working partnerships, recognition of expertise, and a common desire to promote UK manufacturing industry.Success of the IKC will be identified in tems of a self funding UK Centre of Excellence housed at the Optic Technium. It will have world class research facilities, a vibrant research and IP portfolio supporting the introduction of new UK products, together with a wide range of technology transfer mechanisms which will improve the competitiveness of UK companies. In international terms the IKC will be recognised as the leading organisation in the development of value adding surface technologies, components and high value products.


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Bray M (2010) Supersonic laser deposition of Ti and Ti64 alloys in Proceedings of ICALEO 2010 Conference, Anaheim, USA

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Bray M (2008) Recent developments of the laser-assisted cold spray process in Proceedings of the 9th National Conference on Rapid Design, Prototyping & Manufacture, 13 June 2008, Lancaster University.

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Bray M (2008) Recent developments of the laser-assisted cold spray process and deposit characterisation In in Proceedings of 3rd Pacific International Conference on Application of Lasers and Optics (PICALO), 16 - 18 April 2008, Beijing, China

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Cockburn A (2011) Supersonic Laser Deposition for hard-facing with Stellite-6 in Proceedings of EPRI Conference

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Cockburn A (2008) The laser-assisted cold spray process in The Laser User

Description Created a UK capacity to produce high value structured surfaces moulding tools which now achieves £300k export business per year. This manufacturing facility enables films to be created for plastic electronics and other light handling films.

Created a UK capacity to produce freeform shape large mirrors for science applications and hi-tech industries.

Trained over 40 UK ultra precision engineers to MSc level.
Exploitation Route Outputs are being taken forward by 3 spin outs plus the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Ultra Precision

UK capability for freeform optics and micro structured surfaces have been established and these secure significant export business.

See detailed final report at
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Education,Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

Description The UPS2 IKC has produced significant impact across a broad spectrum of activities. It has help establish two spin outs and supported an established one. It has created production capacity leading to export business at over £300k per year. It has supported a €5m contract with ESO for astronomy mirrors and also created a new research theme at Cranfield in solar concentrated technologies.
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Impact Types Economic

Description Automated micro-ECM for Air Bearing Production
Amount £185,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Project 133269 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2017 
End 12/2018
Description EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Ultra Precision
Amount £5,000,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I015566/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2011 
End 08/2022
Description ESO ELT prototype mirror aspherisation and pad bonding
Amount £165,000 (GBP)
Organisation OpTIC Glyndwr Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2007 
End 01/2011
Description ESO Prototype Mirror contract
Amount € 5,000,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Southern Observatory (ESO) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Germany
Start 01/2008 
Description Energy 2012.4.1.1 Fresnel for solar heat with new receiver and geometry
Amount € 581,800 (EUR)
Funding ID 308792 
Organisation European Commission 
Department Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 03/2012 
End 09/2015
Description FP7 Energy 2010-2 Energy Call - Multi Purpose Applications by Thermodynamic Solar "MATS"
Amount € 449,416 (EUR)
Funding ID 268219 
Organisation European Commission 
Department Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 06/2011 
End 08/2015
Description FP7-Energy-2013-IRP Stage-STE
Amount £166,550 (GBP)
Funding ID 609837 
Organisation European Commission 
Department Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 02/2014 
End 01/2018
Description FP7-People-2013-ITN PACMAN
Amount € 150,000 (EUR)
Funding ID 606839 
Organisation European Commission 
Department Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 09/2013 
End 08/2016
Description NASA / ESA JWST MIRI Mirror contract
Amount £325,000 (GBP)
Organisation European Space Agency 
Department ESA Laboratories
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 05/2004 
End 09/2010
Description New Production Technologies of Complex 3D Micro-devices (Integ-micro)
Amount £490,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 214013 
Organisation European Commission 
Department Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 09/2007 
End 08/2011
Description TSB Enhancing manufacturing through automation programme
Amount £646,875 (GBP)
Funding ID 101541 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 08/2016
Description BoX machine design and development 
Organisation Landis Lund
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Designed and Developed the BoX ultra precision grinding machine
Collaborator Contribution Provided concept and mechanical detail design and assembly support
Impact BoX machine became patented and was licensed for commercial build by Cranfield spin out Loxham Precision
Description Concentrated Solar Thermal Laboratory sponsorship 
Organisation Global CSP
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Global CSP are a UK manufacturing company producing novel and high performance CSP systems. Cranfield, through Dr Chris Sansom is helping establish a leading UK knowledge and research fabrication capability with Global CSP
Collaborator Contribution Global CSP have installed numerous solar concentrators at Cranfield for the purposes of evaluation and optimisation
Impact Secured UK engagement within a number of FP7 projects on CST
Start Year 2014
Description Control systems and robot collaboration 
Organisation FANUC UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Using Fanuc systems in research and MSc projects. Resulting in training/awareness of latest Fanuc products amongst young engineers.
Collaborator Contribution Utilisation of Fanuc products for dealing with major technical challenges in large science projects
Impact Control technology for large optics processing systems
Description ESO ELT Prototype Mirrors 
Organisation OpTIC Glyndwr Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Developed ultra precision grinding capabilities and used them to deliver large prototype mirrors for the ESO Extremely Large Telescope
Collaborator Contribution Carried out the polishing and project management to deliver prototype mirrors to the ESO ELT programme. These mirrors represent the World's most precise surfaces ever made.
Impact Established a UK large optics fabrication chain securing UK business in leading science and space telescope programmes
Start Year 2007
Description Hexagon Metrology Sponsorship 
Organisation Hexagon Metrology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Operating a high performance metrology facility in partnership with Hexagon Metrology. Providing services and support to Hexagon and its customers in exchange for a Laboratory sponsorship arrangement.
Collaborator Contribution Facilities, calibrations and upgrades to equipment and yearly payment
Impact Support to UK companies needing access to high value metrology services
Start Year 2007
Description UPS2 Structure Surfaces Laboratory 
Organisation OpTIC Glyndwr Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Established a unique facility to produce ultra precise moulding drums for the mass production of high value films
Collaborator Contribution Cranfield team created the facility. Welsh Government invested £1.0m to purchased elements of this facility. Optic Glyndwr Ltd fronted the marketing requirements and provided financial support.
Impact A unique UK ultra precision machining facility has been produced that makes and ships emerging mould tools all over the World. Todate the facility has shipped well over £1 m of exports.
Start Year 2006
Title Box machine design 
Description Novel machine design to fabricate freeform optics 
IP Reference WO2006117537 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2006
Licensed Yes
Impact Revenue income for spin out Loxham Precision
Title Micro four compact machine design 
Description Machine design licence to Loxham Precision ltd. 
IP Reference  
Protection Protection not required
Year Protection Granted 2014
Licensed Yes
Impact Initial sales of machine secured.
Company Name Loxham Precison Limited 
Description Loxham Precision is a machine and systems manufacturer. It produces ultra precision machines and control systems. 
Year Established 2011 
Impact Secured contracts during its first year with a major optics company. In its second year it secured investment and is building a new machine tool. It also has secured funding via the TSB advanced automation programs.
Company Name UPS2 ltd 
Description Manufacturer of Ultra Precision Rolls for Reel to Reel processing. 
Year Established 2016 
Impact Sales Ultra Precision rolls to the global market.
Description Superheros or Engineering Scientists 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Enthusing children into the world of engineering by asking questions about Superhero.
Was the hulk as superhero or a scientist?
Is Ironman an Engineer?

After my talk some children opted to have their workplacement within my laboratory. Some went on to study STEM at university.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2010,2011,2012,2013
Description euspen Student Challenge 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Broadens students horizons across the participants and forms a co-hort of leading Precision Engineering Students across Europe.

Long term contacts formed between students and potential / actual employers
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011,2012