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MTC eyes NASA partnership

11 December, 2018

The Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre is developing a partnership with the North American space agency (NASA) as US space scientists look to use MTC-developed technology in future space missions.

The high-flying link-up comes after work done by the MTC for the European Space Agency (ESA). The MTC is home to the ESA's additive manufacturing benchmarking centre.

US scientists from five NASA centres including the Kennedy Space Centre have visited the MTC and are particularly interested in teaming up on projects involving the manufacture of complex and high-stress components through additive manufacture, or 3D printing. The MTC is home to the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing and has the most comprehensive combination of equipment and capability in Europe.

NASA is also interested in the MTC's work on component certification and standards, particularly those produced using advanced manufacturing techniques. The MTC is one of the founding partners of North American standards agency ASTM International's Manufacturing Centre of Excellence, alongside EWI, Auburn University and NASA. The MTC and NASA are also in discussions on other technologies including robotic processing, high temperature alloys and ceramics.

MTC chief technologist David Wimpenny said the link-up with NASA was very exciting and had enormous potential: "NASA came to us through our work with the ASTM. Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence and our existing links to the space sector, particularly ESA. There are many areas in which we could work together, including additive manufacture, the certification of AM printed parts and other manufactured parts, inspection technology for thin-walled lightweight parts and extreme high temperature testing."

NASA technologist Rick Russell added: "The NASA additive technologies team is excited about developing future collaborative opportunities. Our team was extremely impressed with the capabilities and staff at the MTC. Working with the ESA we anticipate utilising the MTC and the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing as part of our future collaborative efforts.

The MTC was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC’s industrial members include some of the UK’s major global manufacturers.

The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government’s manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by Innovate UK.


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