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Innovation through integration

The Loughborough IMCRC was established in 2001 with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The funding has provided researchers with the ability to embrace multidisciplinary, innovative projects.

In 2006 the Centre was awarded a further five years of funding and research commenced on five major innovative projects, that fully integrate the range of knowledge and skills of the Centre?s researchers and their industry partners. The aim was to ensure interdisciplinary skills developed novel solutions to industry problems: improving current production processes; incorporating flexibility in product design; initiating step changes in technology; and staying ahead of competitors by bringing innovative customised products to the marketplace.

The Business Driven Automation project aims to transform existing industrial procedures. Current production-line systems are typically difficult and complex to service, reconfigure and optimise in order to rapidly accommodate changing, and often unforeseen, business needs. This project is establishing a new, enduser business-driven approach to automation systems development and support. The approach is highly generic and applicable to virtually all automation sectors, from car manufacturing to electronic goods assembly, to the food and packaging industries. The project primarily targets the automotive engine assembly supply chain, one of the UK?s major areas of manufacturing expertise, in order to enhance its global competitiveness.

Buildings must provide environmentally friendly, sustainable places to live and work if they are to maximise their value. Extending a building?s usable life addresses both a business and a sustainability agenda and means an unprecedented change for construction. The Adaptable Futures project is looking at adaptability in initial design choices (pre-configuration of the building) and subsequent changes in use (re-configuration) of complex non-domestic buildings, i.e. manufacturing and research facilities. By constructing buildings from a range of components it should be possible to adapt to the evolving needs of both building owners and the users of buildings. This demands radical innovation, new design and production processes, and new supply chains that will change traditional life-cycle thinking.

The Tailored Injury Prevention and Performance Improvement for Protective Sports Garments (SCUTA) project unites world experts in the research of protective garments customised to the individual, utilising Additive Manufacturing (AM) techniques. Through the increased manufacturing flexibility of AM, the design and production of highly complex and individualised products and components becomes entirely possible.

The project utilises stateof- the-art manufacturing, biomechanical and impact testing facilities, to quantify and address the specific needs of athletes in three disciplines: Football, Taekwondo and Cricket. To establish the effectiveness of these customised products, specific sensing equipment is being developed and integrated into the protective garments. Testing using specially designed robots has proven the feasibility and the team are now refining prototypes.

The IMCRC?s research into the use of the Additive Manufacturing techniques is not just limited to the traditional manufacturing industries. The Freeform Construction: Mega-Scale Rapid Manufacturing for Construction project is investigating how these techniques may be applied to construction. This step change in technology aims to enable construction companies to ?print? full-scale wall and volumetric components layer by layer. This new way of working will utilise computer?based three-dimensional modelling to automatically control precise deposition of construction material. This process has been termed ?Freeform Construction? and the project aims to deliver a full-scale demonstration of the process.

The Personalised Sports Footwear: E2HS ? From Elite to High Street project comprises a multidisciplinary team of researchers, including experts in Additive Manufacturing, Industrial Design and Ergonomics. It is breaking new ground to develop high-performance sports footwear, optimised for the individual athlete. The technologies developed will contribute to the UK?s medal-winning prospects in the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, with a longer-term goal of bringing personalised sports shoes to the high street. The project has proved that optimised footwear enhances sprint performance. The team have applied for a patent to secure a licence for a new type of footwear and the technological advances recognised with a USA Society of Manufacturing Engineering Breakthrough Technology Award.


We would like to thank all the organisations who are collaborating with us on these projects, to produce new innovative solutions for the manufacturing and construction industries.

Business Driven Automation
Bosch Rexroth Ltd
Ford Motor Company Ltd
Schneider Electric Ltd
ThyssenKrupp Krausse GmbH

Adaptable Futures
Ball State University
BAM Utiliteitsbouw
Buro Happold
Charnwood Borough Council
Development Securities Plc
East Midlands Development Agency
N G Bailey
Reid Architecture
Stubbs Rich Ltd
Technische Universiteit Delft
Terrapin Limited
The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
Sheppard Robson

Tailored Injury Prevention & Performance
Improvement for Protective Sports Garments

British Taekwondo Control Board
Cranfield University
England and Wales Cricket Board
Georgia Institute of Technology
Leicestershire Cricket Club
Marylebone Cricket Club
University of Cambridge
University of Nottingham

Freeform Construction: Mega-Scale Rapid
Manufacturing for Construction

BPB United Kingdom Limited
Buro Happold Ltd
Foster and Partners
Helm X
Laser Optical Engineering Ltd
Putzmeister UK
Saint-Gobain Weber Limited
Shotcrete Plc
Weber Building Solutions

World Taekwondo Federation

Personalised Footwear: E2HS ? From Elite to High Street
3D Systems
New Balance
UK Sport
TNO Industries
Glasgow Caledonian University
Queens University Belfast

For further details, please contact:
Dr Carol Bell, IMCRC Research Manager
Tel: +44 (0)1509 227564

Added the 05 October 2009 in category Innovation UK Vol5-2

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