• Groundbreaking on 10,000 square metre UK Global Technology Centre (GTC)

  • Number of partnerships reaches twenty five in six months

  • New partners include Axillium Research, Blue Bear Systems Research, Exechon Enterprises, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, Renishaw, Siemens Digital Industries Software, Theta Technologies, TriMas Aerospace, University of Birmingham and University of the West of England

In the first half of 2019 GKN Aerospace broke ground on a 10,000 square metre UK Global Technology Centre (GTC) in Bristol and has secured 25 collaboration partners for the new Centre.

The new GTC - funded by a £17m commitment from GKN Aerospace and £15m commitment from the UK Government, through the Aerospace Technology Institute – is expected to open in 2020.

It is GKN Aerospace’s largest UK technology investment to date, announced in December 2018 as part of a record annual technology spend of £75m for GKN Aerospace and alongside the UK government’s Aerospace Sector Deal.

The University of Bath announced our new strategic partnership with GKN in December 2018, having signed a Memorandum of Understanding for collaborating with GKN at the new £32m GTC.

GKN renew Professor Richard Butler’s Research Chair until 2023

Richard Butler, Professor of Aerospace Composites at the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has held a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair with GKN since 2013. This followed a part-time secondment to the world’s leading aerospace supplier in 2011, when the company was developing manufacturing processes for Airbus A350 composite wings.

Over the last 5 years the Materials and Structures (MAST) Research Centre, which is co-directed by Professor Richard Butler and Professor Chris Bowen, has contributed to wing spar manufacture. This has resulted in product savings of over £500k, and has helped the company to achieve target production rates without compromising quality.

Craig Carr, GKN Composites Technology Manager, says: “The relationship provides us with the opportunity to challenge the team at Bath who can use their fundamental scientific knowledge to explore problems in ways that we may not. Some great examples of this have already been delivered.”

GKN has recently announced it will continue to support MAST research by renewing Professor Butler’s Chair until 2023.

Professor Butler says: “The GKN Global Technology Centre in Filton will bring new opportunities for collaborative research and teaching in all areas of advanced aerospace manufacturing. Our EPSRC Programme Grant CerTest will also create fundamental opportunities for further innovation by “Reshaping the Test Pyramid” for the ultra-efficient airframes of the future.”

The concept of an inclusive environment to foster innovation and technical skills development, is proving to be successful, with universities, the UK’s CATAPULT network, GKN Aerospace’s UK supply chain, start-ups as well as large industrial companies joining GKN Aerospace prior to the actual opening.

The centre will focus on additive manufacturing (AM), advanced composites, assembly and industry 4.0 processes to enable the high rate production of aircraft structures. The GTC will maintain GKN Aerospace’s position at the forefront of technology development for the next generation of energy efficient aircraft. The facility will serve as a base for GKN Aerospace’s technology partnership in the Airbus "Wing of Tomorrow" technology programme as well as new additive manufacturing industrialisation programmes.

Commenting CEO of GKN Aerospace ASEA, John Pritchard said:

“We are proud to have taken the next step in the UK GTC development with our groundbreaking in April and we are excited that so many partners have joined us. Our GTC is designed to support GKN Aerospace’s UK workforce and close collaboration with the world-class UK aerospace ecosystem, building on joint expertise, talent and infrastructure. A great example of the UK’s industrial strategy approach, the GTC will take aerospace innovation to the next level and ensure that UK Aerospace industry will continue to operate at the forefront of global aerospace.”

GTC ecosystem

In addition to GKN Aerospace and Aerospace Technology Institute, the collaboration partners at the GTC now include: the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), Additive Industries B.V., ANSYS UK Limited, ATS Applied Tech Systems Limited, Axillium Research, Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd, Centre for Modelling & Simulation, Digital Catapult, Exechon Enterprises L.L.C., Frazer-Nash Consultancy Limited, KUKA Industries UK Limited, Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), Materialise UK Limited, National Composites Centre (NCC), PXL Realm Limited, Renishaw plc, Siemens Industry Software Limited, Thales UK Limited, Theta Technologies Ltd., University of Bath, University of Bristol, University of Sheffield and University of the West of England.

Further information

See our announcement on the University creating a new strategic partnership with GKN Aerospace at the GTC.

For support establishing collaborations with GKN Aerospace through the GKN GTC contact:

Helen Jones, Head of Research Grant Development, Industrial Strategy: hj541@bath.ac.uk
07976 657 092