EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Machining Science

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


The aim of the centre is to train research engineers with skills and expertise at the forefront of knowledge in machining science. Machining is at the heart of almost all manufacturing processes, ranging from the milling and turning processes used to create parts for the air-craft engines that power the planes we travel on, through to the grinding processes used to shape replacement hip-joints. As we demand more from engineered components, and move to materials such as composites or high strength alloys, their intrinsic strength or complexity as materials makes them harder to machine. This frequently means that machining processes are slower, require more manual interventions, and produce more out of tolerance parts: all these factors result in higher costs.

Research into machining science can make a tangible difference to the way in which modern engineering components are produced. For example, recent machining research by the AMRC will be used at Rolls-Royce's new 20,000 square metre factory in Tyne & Wear. This factory will employ over 400 people and make over 2000 engine components per year, for aircraft including the Boeing 786 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380 [1].

Our doctoral training centre will equip research engineers with the skills and expertise that places them at the forefront of machining science. Cohorts of doctoral researchers will each work on an industrially posed machining problem. They will aim to bridge the gap between industry and academia, as they will first research areas of appropriate machining science, before transferring this technology to their sponsor company. Research and training will take place within a collaborative environment, with research engineers based in the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield, where they will be mentored by academics working at the forefront of machining science, and will have access to some of the latest equipment available. Industrial participation is central to our training vision, where in addition to working on an industrially proposed problem, each research engineer will be co- funded and supervised by industry. We see this interaction as essential to ensure the research and training we provide is timely, and addresses the key challenges posed by UK industry.

[1] Rolls-Royce press release, Friday, 21 September 2012. "Rolls-Royce breaks ground for new facility in North East"

Planned Impact

Novel, high-speed machining processes are central to the UK's economic vision with respect to manufacturing, and in particular high value manufacturing.

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Machining Science will provide trained individuals with skills and expertise at the forefront of knowledge in machining science to the labour market. In doing so, it will address a key skills gap in the High Value Manufacturing supply chain. In supporting the manufacturing sector in the UK the centre will deliver societal impact through job and wealth creation. Meanwhile, the outreach activities will aim to attract more widely skilled individuals into manufacturing.

Industrial impact is central to the training programme. All research engineers undertake doctoral training in conjunction with a sponsoring industrial company, which also provides the context for their research work. In some cases this context will reflect current manufacturing problems, and in other cases will consider future machining processes with respect to a company's technology roadmap and capability acquisition. Collaborating industrial companies will therefore receive machining science solutions to industrial problems investigated through the centre. Research engineers undertake their projects in close partnership with their sponsor, and ultimately they implement their research in an industrial context. In order to maximise this impact, training is provided in communication, dissemination and implementation, alongside research skills.

Our industrial partners consider the doctoral training programme as a mechanism through which to develop technical leaders within their organisations. As they move beyond their doctoral research into employment in industry, research engineers will have the opportunity to apply their machining science and industrial project co-ordination skills to solve manufacturing problems beyond the scope of their initial training project. As they embark on their professional careers, the Centre's graduates will have the skills and expertise to underpin manufacturing initiatives such as the re-emergence of the nuclear energy supply chain, where machining of single, long lead-time, high-cost castings is critical.

Longer term and on a broader level, as our alumni develop into leaders, they will also have organisational, cultural, and technical impacts on industry through the teams they create and mentor. This will have a wider industry impact wider industry as these individuals move around the labour market, stimulating the uptake of advanced machining science.

The centre will be based in the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), itself a showcase for the resurgence in UK manufacturing capability. Through the Doctoral Centre's location, research engineers will contribute to outreach and engagement activities in the AMRC, with the aim of further attracting skilled individuals at all levels into the UK manufacturing sector.


10 25 50