Advanced Forming Research Centre Near net shape manufacture

We are pushing the limits of advanced manufacturing. Key to this is helping the companies we work with make better decisions about current and future products to ensure that they are manufactured using material and energy efficient processes.

Ranging from the latest in additive manufacturing to advances in cold forming, our combination of world class technical and design expertise brings real cost and sustainability benefits. For some manufacturers these benefits could be using a cold process, such as hydroforming, to save up to 70% on tooling costs, for others it might be using additive manufacturing, allowing the production of complex lightweight parts that were previously impossible to realise.


Technical information

Our machining workshop is home to advanced mechanical equipment used for the precise machining, preparation, cutting and finishing of metal samples and components. It specialises in machining, providing custom parts, components, fixtures, modifications and reworks.

Agie Charmilles Wire EDM F1440CCS

Technical information: A versatile machine that can cut 45° cones whatever the height of the part. It is widely used at the centre and is ideal for machining complex components. Also used across industry to manufacture high-precision complex parts.

AgieCharmilles Hole Drill 11

Technical information: The high-speed DRILL 11 offers multiple point EDM hole drilling capabilities and an integrated rotation spindle, which allows for automated erosion of holes at multiple locations with minimal intervention.

HAAS TM-2 CNC Toolroom Mill

Technical information: The TM-2 is a versatile machine that combines the functionality and simplicity of a manual mill with the power and flexibility of the Haas CNC control, making it ideal for tool rooms and shops transitioning to CNC. 

HAAS TL-1 CNC Toolroom Lathe

Technical information: Equipped with the Haas Intuitive Programming System, the TL-1 is extremely easy to learn and operate. Operations that would be difficult on a manual machine, such as compound angles, radii, tapers, ID and rigid tapping.  

Incremental near net shape forming and forging

Incremental processes provide an energy and materials efficient alternative to those requiring significant force and heat. Producing parts incrementally and in a cold state negates the need for large-scale equipment and high energy use, resulting in large cost savings for our customers. It also achieves a significant level of shape change in one quick operation. Using the vertical flow former, for example, we can produce very complex shapes made from flat plate in just a two or three minutes cycle time.

Technical information:

Custom built by MJC, this is a unique spin - nutation rotary forge. A nutation angle range of 0-45 degrees allows forming of flanged components from hollow tubular work-pieces, meaning less materials wastage and no joining methods required. Using this process, up to 90% material savings can be achieved compared to conventional machining from a solid blank.

  • Workpiece diameter: range 50 mm  –  450 mm
  • Spindle speed: 20-200 rpm
  • Slide stroke: 800mm
  • Max force: 250 kN

Superplastic forming

SPF allows the creation of unique and complex products, such as stiff lightweight structures boasting excellent materials properties. Our full-scale SPF delivers impact for industrial customers. Exceptional mechanical testing and process-modelling capabilities enable projects that save our customers time, materials and money. Lubrication and coatings expertise means improved die life. Replicating process conditions on a small scale allows us to draw conclusions from lab scale tests. We are also focused on addressing SPF’s high energy use, driving more efficient ways to achieve the same results

ACB 200T Superplastic Forming Press

Technical info: Supports forming of mid-sized single and multi-sheet structures, with design features representative of production parts, to validate finite element modelling studies and optimal forming curves through experimental trials.

  • Static force: from 200kN to 2000kN
  • Platen dimensions: 760 x 760mm
  • Max daylight: 700 mm
  • Main ram stroke: 500mm
  • Tool thermocouples: 6


ACB 1,200T Superplastic Forming Press/ 600T Hot Creep Forming Press

Technical info: A globally unique research press based on its size and capability. This 1200 tonne superplastic forming press is used for the production of larger industrial-size geometries, such as full-scale aerospace components, providing a unique capability for a research environment. Offers creep forming capabilities up to 600 tonne.

  • Static force: 500 kN to 12,000 kN
  • Heating platens: 2,400 x 2,000 mm
  • Max. daylight: 2,000 mm
  • Main ram stroke: 1,800 mm
  • Tool thermocouples: 12
  • Heating power: 375 kW
  • Temperature accuracy: 950° C ± 10° C
  • Number of gas lines: 3

Cold forming

We’re using cold forming in new ways, opening up production of precision components in advanced materials, such as high strength steels. Our focus is on using low energy processes, making them suitable for the next generation of products, such as body panels in electric vehicles, which must be light but strong. Specialisms include forming industrial components, resulting in savings through reduced materials waste and forming lead time. We also assess alternative methods of manufacture, offer finite element modelling, experimental work on state of the art forming equipment, and research on lubricants and coatings.

Technical information:

Used for achieving complex bending patterns of sheet and plate metals.  Supports springback measurement and formability assessment of metal sheet and plate. External preheat from a furnace or infrared heating used for semi-coining and warm bending. Bending a wide range of materials, including complex alloys and aerospace and automotive grades, we also use it to create complex 3D shapes

  • 1000 kN CNC press-brake
  • 3m horizontal bend length
  • Automatic bend correction capability
  • Lower tool hydraulic clamping system
  • Opposing wave technology crowning system
  • Maximum stroke 250 mm
  • 6 axis powered CNC back-gauge (X1, X2, Z1, Z2, R1 & R2)


Hydroforming is established manufacturing process but we’re finding new ways to exploit its benefits, using harder to deform materials and exploring increasingly complex geometries. It can provide a reduction in tooling costs of up to 70% compared to traditional stamping tooling. Also enables the forming of complex shapes, which reduces welding and assembly requirements.

  • 50% less tooling
  • Tooling costs up to 70% cheaper than traditional stamping tooling
  • Reduced welding requirements for complex shapes
  • Enhanced opportunities for light weighting

Incremental sheet forming

Cost effective and accessible, we use it to manufacture small batch products or prototypes. In a successful project with Boeing and TIMET we focused on complex shaped parts, exploring how cold forming techniques could offer cost reductions. We demonstrated that manufacturing using this technology helps shorten time to market, reduce development costs, shrink production cost and energy usage, and obtain desirable parts in a small series.