“The most advanced factory in the world” is to be built at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at Catcliffe.
The £43m development, backed by £10m from the Government, is designed to meet the needs of aerospace and other high-value manufacturing industries.
Manufacturers including Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Spirit AeroSystems are also committed to supporting the project.
Prof Keith Ridgway, executive dean of the AMRC, said: “This will be the most advanced factory in the world. It will give us a home for the research and demonstration work associated with building the next generation of aircraft and energy technologies.
“The aim is to be able to manufacture any component as a one-off, and instantaneously switch between components. This will be a totally reconfigurable factory, one of the goals of the advanced manufacturing research strategy.”
The AMRC ‘Factory 2050’ will combine technologies including advanced robotics, flexible automation, unmanned workspace, off-line programming in virtual environments linked to plug-and-play robotics, 3D printing from flexible automated systems, man-machine interfaces, and new programming and training tools. Around 50 researchers and engineers will work in the new facility.
It will be constructed largely from glass, to showcase the advanced manufacturing technologies inside. The exact location is yet to be decided.
Around 50 researchers and engineers will work at the development, which is due to be completed around the end of next year.
Vice-Chancellor Prof Sir Keith Burnett, said the University was “deeply proud of the vision and talent of our engineers who have a global reputation for advanced manufacturing research which works directly with industry in ways which transform business, create jobs and strengthen our economy.
“This new facility brings together government, business and the University to drive the innovation that is so important to the UK’s future economy and assures our place at the forefront of global high value manufacturing.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Hallam MP Nick Clegg said: “This shows how the Coalition Government is investing in Sheffield to ensure we remain a world leader in advanced manufacturing – whilst creating new jobs and a stronger economy at the same time. I’m delighted that the University, business and Government have all come together to make this exciting project happen.
“This will be a landmark development and prove to be a huge asset in attracting even more jobs and investment to our region.”