During a recent review of the MAPP core research programme, we have identified the three grand challenges and the cross cutting grand challenge themes.

The grand challenges are:

  • GC1: Right First Time Manufacturing. Ensuring we can deliver defect free and fit for purpose components. Being able to predict porosity and microstructure evolution through multiphysics modelling. Accommodating variability through real time process control. Achieving pre-defined performance in components and reducing waste. Working towards zero waste manufacture – processes which are cleaner, more efficient and generate less waste.
  • GC2: From In-Process Monitoring and Control to In-Service Prediction and Performance. In-situ microstructural control, i.e. components which can be made with specific and controlled microstructures and properties, which will allow us to move from ‘form on demand’ (right first time) to ‘performance on demand’. Prediction of component performance in subsequent manufacturing steps and service conditions from the original starting material and processing conditions.
  • GC3: Enhanced Product Performance. Enhanced component performance through careful control of process and materials. Structural manipulation to enhance component performance and functionality – controlled hierarchical structures and components. Development of starting materials which are tuned for the process (e.g. ‘alloys by design’). Development of processes for materials which are challenging to process or cannot be currently processed via existing powder processes. Manufacturing of products with properties that are currently impossible.

The cross cutting grand challenge themes are:

  • Facilities and Demonstrators. We have developed a suite of advanced powder processing equipment and facilities as part of the Henry Royce Institute. This includes a ‘vertically integrated factory’ with the ability to design and make new alloys and powder materials and to process these materials via a wide range of advanced powder processes. The facilities include small scale research equipment – highly instrumented systems – where we can develop new ideas and concepts, together with commercial-scale equipment where we can demonstrate concepts and take them forward with our partners. We have developed process replicators for use on beamlines (powder bed and blown powder AM) and are developing further replicator systems (e.g. FAST). We are also developing new manufacturing processes and systems including DAM and ceramic robocasting.
  • Sustainability. Conventional material shaping and processing routes are often very wasteful and energy intensive, with typical ‘buy-to-fly’ ratios in aerospace manufacturing of 10-20%. Advanced powder processes offer the opportunity to reduce energy consumption and material use, contributing towards the UK’s plans for net-zero carbon. Processes such as FAST offer the opportunity to use the waste from other processes (e.g. machining swarf) as a starting material for high value products.
  • Digital Twin. A central thread within MAPP’s approach is the development of process models which can be used to predict and control process outcomes. We are taking a systems engineering approach to build supervisory, predictive and interactive models of the powder processes and manufactured parts (our ‘digital twins’). These models are a combination of both data-based and knowledge-based models with new metrology and in-situ monitoring approaches providing key inputs.

The video below takes a closer look at GC1: Right First Time Manufacturing.

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