The Inform and Simple projects, backed by government funding of almost £2.5 million, will investigate two contrasting approaches to producing large-scale nuclear components. Inform aims to improve the process of moving large parts between multiple machines, while Simple aims to do more operations on a single platform.
The Inform project (intelligent fixtures for optimised and radical manufacture) will develop an adaptive fixturing system to ease the movement of large parts around a factory, and ensure precision throughout forging, machining, welding, inspection and assembly.
The project will develop a through-life fixture which can hold large components while they undergo a range of operations, and facilitate movement between tools. With sensors linked to actuators and manipulators, the fixture will automatically adjust its grip to minimise distortion during movement and manufacturing.
The fixturing technology will be demonstrated on large cylindrical parts representing a two-thirds scale replica of a mid-range reactor pressure vessel. The Nuclear AMRC is leading the project, backed by around £1.1 million project funding, with partners include fixturing specialist MetLase, Sheffield Forgemasters, Cambridge Vacuum Engineering, NPL and TWI.
The funding will support collaborative R&D over 20 months, and follows an initial three-month feasibility study by the Nuclear AMRC. Ultimately, the project aims to cut cost and time for manufacturing large complex nuclear components on a series of dedicated platforms by at least 50 per cent.