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Final Focus: The Future of Forging

Thursday 23rd May 16:30 - 16:50

Forging is believed to date back over 6,000 years and is one of the first manufacturing techniques adopted by man, however, there are still a number research topics which are as-yet unexplored and fundamental materials aspects which are not fully understood. The Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) – part of the University of Strathclyde, is embarking on an exciting new programme which is set to revolutionise the global hot forging sector.

FutureForge, funded by the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme, Scottish Enterprise and the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, will adjoin to the already world-renowned Renfrewshire-based centre.

The FutureForge facility will be the world’s most advanced hot forging research platform and will include a one-of-a-kind, industry 4.0 ready forging cell. The facility will house a state of the art 2000T Hydraulic Press, capable of switching between three modes of operation: Open Die, Closed Die and Isothermal Forging. A large bespoke manipulator will service the press and allow products of up to 4m in length and 1T to be produced with incredible accuracy.

To capitalise on the massive investments being made, the AFRC are developing a large research programme to address the challenges faced by industry sectors such as Aerospace, Oil & Gas, Nuclear, Marine and Automotive. Utilising Industry 4.0 concepts such as real time visualisation, process and microstructural modelling, data collection and analysis, the AFRC aim to achieve the world’s first digital twin in forging. In essence, AFRC aim to take forging from a black art with centuries of tradition and turn it into a competitive industry with advanced capabilities fit for centuries to come.

Speaker: John McBain, Chief of Forging at Advanced Forming Research Centre

Final Focus: The Future of Forging

John McBain is the Chief of Forging at the AFRC. John has over 40 years Manufacturing Engineering experience in forging aerospace components, starting as an apprentice with Rolls-Royce in 1973 and working his way up through the company to become the Manufacturing Engineer responsible for acquiring new capability in forging for Rolls-Royce at their compressors manufacturing facility in Inchinnan near Glasgow.

During his time with Rolls-Royce he obtained an HNC and a BEng (Hons) in Manufacturing Systems Engineering, and become a Chartered Engineer and also a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. Whilst at Rolls-Royce he was responsible for the technical aspects of the design and installation of a fully automated forging cell capable of automatically forging up to 360,000 parts per annum. He has created a number of innovative design solutions for forging tooling and has 7 Patent Applications for forging related applications.

John was the AFRC Project lead for the £13.7m Rolls-Royce-led MAMOTH PGB project (Materials, Manufacturing and Oils Technologies for High Power GearBox systems) which was funded by Innovate UK, through the Aerospace Technology Institute and aims to develop lightweight gearbox components for gas turbine engines, using novel manufacturing processes. He and his team at the AFRC recently completed a project which reduced the number of forging steps for an aerofoil component from eight operations to five and, allowing the parts to be made on one multiforge, rather than using a multiforge and a screw press. This has resulted in a saving of £550k per Annum across this product range.


View the conference programme here

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