Advanced Forming Research Centre

Our story

The Advanced Forming Research Centre has come a long way since it was first spoken about in 2005. What was originally an idea discussed within the Design, Manufacture & Engineering Management department of the University of Strathclyde’s engineering faculty is now a rapidly growing research centre employing around 130 people.

Our story 2015


  • A recruitment drive sees the centre grow to 110 employees
  • The SME Innovation and Support team is established
  • DMG Mori becomes a member of the centre
  • Machining capabilities are enhanced with the introduction of 4 new DMG Mori machines
  • Fully automated manufacturing cell is commissioned
Our story 2014


  • AFRC 2 – the extension to the original building is opened
  • 1200T superplastic forming / 600T hot creep forming press, flow former and rotary forge are all commissioned and housed in the new extension
  • Critical rotating flow formed parts produced 
  • Full-scale demonstration of rotary forge took place
  • Staff numbers grow again to 80 by the end of the year
Our story 2013


  • Michael Ward and Paul Blackwell appointed as Technical and Engineering Directors respectively
  • 200T SPF press operational 
  • Automated forging cell commissioned
  • The centre now employs 60 people
Our story 2012


  • The first CEO of the AFRC is appointed
  • Staff numbers grow to 50
  • Michael Ward, current Technical Director, joins on secondment from Rolls-Royce
  • Building work gets under way on AFRC 2
Technology in the AFRC


  • The Government announces that the first technology and innovation centre is to focus on high value manufacturing
  • First meeting of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres takes place in the AFRC
  • Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, announces that the HVM Catapult is open for business at Innovate UK event in London
  • The AFRC now employs 30 people 
  • Current Engineering Director, Paul Blackwell, joins the AFRC
  • First industrial part is forged  on 2,100 tonne screw press
  • Planning begins for AFRC 2 – an extension on to the building in Inchinnan to make space for more employees and kit


Our story 2010


  • The 12 person team moves into the new building in Inchinnan
  • Schuler AG 2100 tonne screw press installed as the first piece of big kit in the workshop
  • A further two tier one members join the centre bringing the total to six along with twelve tier two members
  • Prime Minister, David Cameron, announces that over £200million will be invested in a network of elite technology and innovation centres
  • AFRC now employs 20 people
Advanced Forming Research Centre, launch seminar 2009.


  • AFRC’s first research director appointed
  • Official launch seminar takes place and the AFRC begins officially trading
  • First cohort of staff employed taking the total to 10
Our story 2008


  • Professor William Ion, is officially seconded to work on establishing the Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) after completing his term as Head of Department of the University's Design Manufacture & Engineering Management department 
  • Core team is set up in the James Weir building on the University campus in Glasgow city centre
  • Remi Zante – now Senior Technology Officer – begins developing initial research themes with Rolls-Royce
  • First AFRC PhD student, Magnus Anderson, starts and is sponsored by Rolls-Royce
  • Original business plan submitted to Scottish Enterprise
  • Founding members: Rolls-Royce, Boeing, Mettis Aerospace and Timet sign membership agreement
  • First commercial project gets underway

We employ 130 staff

The only Scottish HVM catapult