EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Ultra Precision

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: School of Water, Energy and Environment


Many high value next generation products demand macro scale ultra precision components, with micro-scale structure possessing nanometric tolerance. CIM-UP's vision is to be the world's foremost research centre for innovation in next generation ultra-precision production systems and products with global outreach. It will foster and accelerate development of emerging high value products through its dedicated production compatible ultra precision process research platforms and internationally leading research programme. It will facilitate the engagement of the UK precision manufacturing supply chain into the future wealth creating opportunities of emerging sectors.The key manufacturing challenges that will be met by CIM-UP are the creation of a suite of ultra-high precision closed loop (integrated metrology) digital based manufacturing tools that offer a step-change in the fabrication routes for products that require nanoscale precision across length scales from nm to several metres.It is intended that process research will extend energy processing technologies, such as plasmas, lasers, ion and electron beams, and low temperature deposition techniques into fully capable ultra precision manufacturing processes. It is intended these emergent processes will be employed sequentially or simultaneously with established ultra precision processes within newly devised research platforms. These research platforms will be created in partnership with suitable UK industrial partners using a fully digital mechatronic design process. The design processes will extend; CAD, FEA (thermal/dynamic), CAM and performance verification using modal techniques for thermal and mechanical structural analyses. Performance verification will be undertaken using internationally accepted test procedures that will be verified, and where necessary enhanced, using the services of an appropriate national laboratory.Important UK manufacturing operations within biomedical, telecommunications, energy generation, aerospace/space, transport, pharmaceutical and future display technologies rely on precision engineering. Emerging fields of printed electronics and flexible displays are highly dependent on the creation of new production capabilities which will need to offer step changes in precision accuracy and productivity. The overarching aim of CIM-UP will be to realise research processes and platforms that define a new generation of rapid and effective ultra precision production systems. In this way, this centre will reconcile the simultaneous demands of 'accuracy' and 'rapid production capacity' thereby establishing advanced manufacturing technologies pivotal to important emerging market sectors. Through close interaction with the UK's precision manufacturing technology supply chain and product end users/developers, a unique world-leading ultra precision research centre will be established by two internationally recognised research institutes. This collaborative application builds on previous research programme partnerships established through earlier IMRC activities, Grand Challenges and the UPS2 Integrated Knowledge Centre. The UPS2 IKC and Cambridge CIKC will provide pipe-line translation mechanisms for the proposed early TRL research outputs from CIM-UP.

Planned Impact

The major beneficiaries on whom CIM-UP's research will impact include UK manufacturing companies (especially SMEs) the University partners and society in general. Benefits will be realised in terms of the economy, knowledge and people. The importance of manufacturing to the UK economy and the key issues and barriers to economic success are highlighted in the main proposal which demonstrate the central role of manufacturing technology in ensuring economic growth. Many emerging sectors and next generation products will demand large-scale ultra precision (nanometre-level tolerance) complex components. To date numerous discrete process steps have evolved into long process chains requiring high levels of capital investment. Such extensive process chains are needed to create even initial pre-production prototypes. This issue has become a significant barrier to SME's realising their innovative products. Since it is widely acknowledged that manufacturing employment growth will stem from SMEs and emerging sectors, this issue is of national importance. The UK holds a world-leading position in ultra precision related manufacturing research, which has in recent years gained highly effective and unique ultra precision R&D infrastructure operating beyond those established industrial sectors such as aerospace, automotive and defence. Therefore, opportunities exist to leverage UK precision manufacturing supply chain organisations towards identified emerging sectors where, in partnership with leading UK researchers, a unique potential for greater wealth generation can be realised for the UK from its innovation capacity. This potential is currently unaddressed and requires a distinctive approach focused on Ultra Precision manufacturing. This is the opportunity and challenge for the CIM-UP. Manufacturing success requires the generation of new knowledge and innovation. In particular, business requires new, innovative ideas that can become reality. The research focus of CIM-UP will target key areas of manufacturing technology that will be developed in partnership between the Centre and the industrial partners. This leading edge research will support both the industrial and University strategies and in addition contribute to the broader UK national need. To realise this future success, manufacturing requires leaders with both the knowledge and vision to grow UK manufacturing business. CIM-UP will produce individuals who will provide such leadership to ensure that UK manufacturing can meet the future technical and business challenges needed to compete globally. The potential of the UK's innovation capacity to create new high-end manufacturing jobs is significant. Maximising this wealth generation opportunity within the UK will however depend on successfully realising next generation innovative production systems. Without relevant production research, r&d infrastructure, and an effective technology supply chain, there will be a limit to the UK's direct employment growth from its innovation capacity, leading to a constant migration of UK wealth creation potential into overseas economies. CIM-UP will develop a significant number of highly trained manufacturing engineers who will be essential to provide the leadership necessary to drive UK high value manufacturing forward and provide the vision for future prosperity. Manufacturing business requires people who can generate knowledge and then transform that knowledge into action. CIM-UP will provide researchers with the breadth of skills, both technical and business, to make a real impact on the future of UK manufacturing.
Description The overarching technical challenge of this centre is to be able to fabricate tiny features and rapidly apply them to very large scale surfaces. Added to that is the complication that the large areas might be plastic films that change shape during processing. Thus far, the centre has engaged numerous UK (and some international) companies into this engineering challenge. Promising results in regards facilities and capability development have been achieved at this half term position.
Exploitation Route Research platforms have been created. New techniques for Ultra Precision Manufacturing have been established. One of three research platforms is a commercial product being exploited through Cranfield spin out. A second research platform represents the UK's leading research facility for reel to reel processing of films. This research platform is being employed by the CDT in Ultra Precision. A third research platform held at Cambridge is also being used as the UK's Precision Laser Processing System. This third system is also being employed by researchers involved with EPRSC in Ultra Precision.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Electronics,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

URL http://www.ultraprecision.org
Description Established 3 spin out companies Loxham Precision Laser Technologies UPS2
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Retail,Transport
Impact Types Societal,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 Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2011 
End 08/2022
Description Impact Accelleration Account - Watch It Made
Amount £35,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Impact Accelleration Scheme 
Organisation Cranfield University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2014 
End 03/2015
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 Automation of Advanced Optics Production 
Organisation Qioptic
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Partnership projects have led to a TSB funded project. New UK designed and built machines are to be tested in the UK's leading optics manufacturing system at Qioptiq
Collaborator Contribution Developed machine concepts for next generation diamond turning machines for the production of advanced IR optics
Impact TSB project #101541 Automation for mass production of high performance optics
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
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.
Title BoX ultra precision grinding machine 
Description High precision production grinding machine 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2008 
Impact Spin out company and licence deal 
URL http://www.loxhamprecision.com/products/box-freeform-grinding-machine.html
Title Micro 4 - DTM 
Description Compact ultra precision diamond turning machine tool 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact Product of spin out company TSB project #101541 
URL http://www.loxhamprecision.com/products/u4-turn-diamond-turning-machine.html
Title Micro 4 - micro mill 
Description Compact ultra precision micro-milling machine tool 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2010 
Impact Product for spin out company 
URL http://www.loxhamprecision.com/products/u4-micro-milling-turning-machine.html
Title Watch It Made 
Description Engineering educational experience to enthuse children into the engineering profession 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact Establishment of a Manufacturing Learning Studio that is intended to be the basis of a Franchise business putting engineering /manufacturing into the retail environment whilst giving children an experience to have pride in producing a quality product: a self designed watch. 
URL http://watchitmade.org/
Title mK ultra precision temperature controller 
Description milli Kelvin temperature control system product for ultra precision thermal control demands 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2007 
Impact Spin out company product produced across two UK companies 
URL http://www.loxhamprecision.com/products/mk-ultra-precision-temperature-controllers.html
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.
Website http://www.loxhamprecision.com
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.
Website http://www.ups2.co.uk
Description London International Youth Science Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Career questions from the international delegates enthuse by the engineering behind science programmes

Questions from 17-21 year olds about the engineering professions related to large science programmes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.ultraprecision.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/EPSRC-Centre-in-UP-Annual-Report-12-13.pdf
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 2009,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
Description Watch It Made 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Watch It Made is an educational engineering experience offered to school children within my research centre

Enthuses children to think about selecting engineering at GCSE level
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014
URL http://www.watchitmade.org
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 2008,2009,2010,2011,2012,2013
URL http://www.euspen.eu/OurEvents/euspenChallenge.aspx