Pioneering forging research hub puts Scotland at the forefront of advanced engineering

Advanced Forming Research Centre

FutureForge – a pioneering new research hub – has been launched at the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC), part of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS).

Based in Renfrewshire, FutureForge is a globally unique platform that will see the 100-strong AFRC team of engineers and researchers work directly with the biggest forging companies around in the world, thanks to the facility’s digital and connectivity capabilities.

Unparalleled connectivity

Professor Brad Wynne, director of the Advanced Forming Research Centre, said: “With the largest hot forging press of its kind, dedicated solely to research and innovation, unparalleled connectivity capabilities, and over a decade of experience in materials science, the Advanced Forming Research Centre is in a unique position to help the forging industry embrace net-zero, unlock energy savings, accelerate productivity and ultimately transform this vitally important industry for future generations.”

The 2,000 tonne press, multiple furnaces, ground-breaking smart manipulator and fully connected, data-driven, control room, that make up FutureForge, provide the sector with the industry-scale test bed it requires to help de-risk investment in innovation around materials, process improvements and energy utilisation.

Forging is a traditional manufacturing process dating back thousands of years and is vital to nationally important industries such as aerospace, defence, marine and energy.

The multi-million-pound investment has been supported by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), High Value Manufacturing Catapult and Scottish Enterprise.

Novel platform

Chris Courtney, Chief Executive Officer of NMIS, said: “FutureForge, is the latest addition to a growing suite of Industry 4.0 research and development capabilities within the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland. Through this novel platform, companies from around the world can access not only the world leading materials science and forging capabilities of the Advanced Forming Research Centre but also the digitally focused skills and expertise of the rest of the NMIS Group.

“It gives the teams the opportunity to work with, and help, major businesses around the world and to act as a magnet for potential inward investors attracted to the idea of establishing production facilities within the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland in order to be closer to the R&D talents and skilled workforce here in Scotland.”

Speaking at the opening of FutureForge, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, chair of the NMIS Board and President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “With the launch of FutureForge, the Advanced Forming Research Centre and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland continue to go from strength to strength.

By growing its unique research facilities and opportunities for industry and academia to collaborate and innovate, NMIS is cementing its status as a global centre of research and innovation excellence and an invaluable asset to Scotland’s advanced manufacturing sector. 

“This is a clear example of the national and local economic benefits that flow from strategic collaboration and co-investment across partners in the private, public and academia, all of which is built on outstanding talent and world class research capability.”