METALS: South Yorkshire writing a new chapter in its proud industrial history

Metalysis' new HQ on the AMP.
Metalysis' new HQ on the AMP.
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Metalysis is set to write South Yorkshire’s name into the history of the metals industry once again.

Many believe the firm has developed a process as significant as any that has gone before.

Lord Prior at the launch of Metalysis.

Lord Prior at the launch of Metalysis.

Business minister Lord Prior summed it up best when he spoke at the Metalysis launch.

He said: “I joined British Steel in 1980 and you could almost pretend South Yorkshire was still a great manufacturing powerhouse. It is the home of Bessemer, continuous casting and stainless steel.

“But by the mid-1980s we had lost the plot.

“After the steel strike, Germany and Japan were bigger and better than we were. It was a real wake up call, we had been left behind.

Chairman Doug Caster CBE at the launch of Metalysis.

Chairman Doug Caster CBE at the launch of Metalysis.

“Metalysis marks a renaissance in metals processing. It’s taken 12 years. But investors like Neil Woodford, government and local councils in South Yorkshire are prepared to back this company and that bodes well for the future.

“In the new industrial strategy we are going to support Metalysis and areas like South Yorkshire.

“It has all the ingredients, including a fantastic tradition and expertise from the University of Sheffield, strong civic institutions, great entrepreneurs and access to long-term capital and computer science skills. The world is your oyster.

“The first industrial revolution was born in Sheffield City Region – why not the fourth?”

Rotherham leader Coun Chris Read at the launch of Metalysis.

Rotherham leader Coun Chris Read at the launch of Metalysis.

Metalysis’ patented powder production method was developed by Prof Derek Fray and his team at Cambridge University.

It led to the firm’s formation and its first base at Wath-upon-Dearne in Rotherham. That site is set to receive up to £8m of investment to develop powdered metal producing ‘reactors’ that can be installed in factories around the world.

Metalysis received £20m from investors last year.

Chief executive Dr Dion Vaughan said the company was now in “growth mode”.

Dr Dion Vaughan with a Gen 2 module at the launch of Metalysis.

Dr Dion Vaughan with a Gen 2 module at the launch of Metalysis.

He added: “From the genius of Cambridge to the expertise and talent of South Yorkshire to the point where we are making industrial stuff takes patience, which is very much appreciated. But now we are very much in growth mode.

“We aim to be a global business with its heart in this region at the forefront of a new revolution in metals processing.”

Company chairman Doug Caster CBE said the rapid development of industry on the Advanced Manufacturing Park and plans for 4,000 homes on the site, the former Orgreave coking works, were in contrast to 1984 when it was the scene of a clash between striking miners and police.

He added: “I hope the growth, development and future prosperity are a fitting tribute to those who remember this area quite differently.”

Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said: “It comes down to building on our heritage. Taking what we are good at and building it into something everyone can share in. Metalysis is it. The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District is the standard to which other areas aspire.”