In micro-nano manufacturing, researchers use a range of bench-top devices for the manufacturing of micro and nano-structures as well as technologies for developing agile, personalised and bespoke manufacturing. We aim to focus on the technology, systems and management of modern industrial manufacture including manufacturing methods, design, applied control, and precision manufacturing.
Within the Micro-Nano Manufacturing theme, our research and development focuses on knowledge-based approaches to ultra-precision and micro-manufacturing. This consists of three key areas of research activity. The first is ‘top-down’ ultraprecision and micro- or nano-manufacturing through the integration of high-precision machines, smart tooling and micro-cutting mechanics and physics. Then we have ‘bottom-up’ ultraprecision as well as micro- and nano-manufacturing through molecular manufacturing with application to chemical engineering, pharmaceutical industry and 3D-printing fabrication. Finally, we look at multiscale multi-physics based modelling and analysis, which provides the essential foundation for both top-down and bottom-up ultraprecision and micro- or nano-manufacturing.
More specifically, the expertise in our theme covers around 20 areas. We are looking into the prospects for several innovative types of manufacturing: sustainable manufacturing and systems, e-manufacturing, global manufacturing, micro- and nano-manufacturing, smart tooling and manufacturing, CAD and digital manufacturing and energy-efficient manufacturing. We also examine individual processes within manufacturing on a smaller scale, conducting research into simulations, system and multiscale modelling, multi-physics based modelling and engineering design and analysis. We then look at other stages in the process: condition monitoring and control, ultraprecision machining and the design of precision and micro-machines. Investigations into metrology and robotics in manufacturing are an important part of our work, and have great relevance to the sector – as does our industrial-facing work on business process engineering and the management of supply chains, technology and innovation. Finally, we have special projects examining electrical discharge machining (EDM) processes and the manufacture of integrally bladed rotors.
Examples of key innovations include the UltraMill machine, a cutting-edge manufacturing tool that is helping UK and European manufacturers compete in high value manufacturing, particularly ultra-precision and micro manufacturing. Used to produce medical devices, watch and electronic components, UltraMill has inspired a pioneering diamond cutting tool and has been used by Apple to make the bevels around the edge of the iPhone 5S.