Claimed unique large machining capability available for process development at Nuclear AMRC

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The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) is now inviting UK manufacturers to make use of its newest and largest machines - describing them as unique capabilities for any research facility worldwide - in the development of new machining techniques for very large precision components.

Based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park between Sheffield and Rotherham, the Nuclear AMRC works with manufacturing companies to help them win work in civil nuclear and other energy sectors. It is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a collaborative network of leading manufacturing research centres backed by the UK government. The largest machine by area is a Soraluce FX12000 floor-type horizontal milling and boring centre (TW Ward CNC Machinery). It is capable of working on parts such as decommissioning waste flasks, pumps, valves, offshore wind turbine hubs and sub-sea components for oil and gas. The machine, purchased with BIS funding, can complete five-sided machining of complex parts in a single set-up, on parts of up to 12 m in length and 5 m diameter. Says the Nuclear AMRC's head of machining, Jay Shaw: "The Soraluce's multiple head-changing capability allows us to undertake the most demanding machining tasks across all sectors. And with a working envelope roughly the size of a double-decker bus, we think it's the biggest machine tool available anywhere in the world for research." Complementing the Soraluce is a Dörries Contumat vertical turning/milling lathe (VTL – Starrag UK), capable of working on parts of up to 5 m diameter and 3 m height. It offers full turning, milling and deep hole drilling capabilities for the largest high value components for the nuclear industry, including full-scale reactor internal parts, as well as offshore well heads and wind turbine hub connectors. The VTL is funded by the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. Says Shaw: "The VTL offers unrivalled turning capabilities, but also offers full gantry milling capabilities with 5 m of Y-axis travel and a 37 kW milling spindle with a multiple head-changer. Again, these are unique capabilities for a research centre anywhere in the world." "Both these machines are ready and waiting for manufacturers who want to see what they can do," he says. Parts machined on the new machines can be verified in-house on one of the largest gantry-type coordinate measuring machines available. The Hexagon DEA Delta is capable of measuring parts of 6 m length and 3 m width, and weighing up to 15 tonnes. From November, it will be housed in a new vibration-proofed and temperature-controlled CMM extension to the main Nuclear AMRC workshop, allowing it to work to maximum precision. An open day is to be organised early in 2015 for manufacturers to see the machines in action on representative parts.