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Super bike helped by new £5 million lab that gives Midlands manufacturers super powers

A lab that gives engineers in Midlands manufacturing companies super powers has helped a Midlands company build a super bike that has finished 2nd in the first ever Moto2 race in Qatar.

View original image">laser_scanner.jpgThe bike’s builders have joined other engineers in Midlands manufacturing companies large and small who have effectively been granted the super powers of laser vision and x-ray eyes thanks to a £5 million lab launched today, Thursday 20th May, at WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) at the University of Warwick.

Part funded by Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the new £5 million Premium Vehicle Customer Interface Technologies (PVCIT) Centre brings together in a unique package: high resolution laser scanners, x-ray technology in a precision CT scanner, and the UK’s highest resolution 3D “Power Wall”. Taken together these technologies will grant Midlands manufacturers abilities that would normally be associated with superheroes and supercomputers rather than engineers.

View original image">using_the_3d_wall.jpgDr Mark Williams, WMG researcher and PVCIT Principal Investigator said:

West Midlands companies are already queueing up for free access to this technology which allows them to do everything from searching for microscopic defects deep inside welded components to laser scanning whole products as big as a car or van to create 3D models accurate to 5 thousandths of a millimetre which they can then display and manipulate on the Centre’s 3D “Power Wall”.

Stephen Gray, Head of Clusters & Manufacturing at Advantage West Midlands said: “The PVCIT Centre joins other recent major initiatives in low carbon vehicle technology, intelligent transport, and vehicle light weighting to reinforce the West Midlands’ excellence in automotive engineering. The region already undertakes over 60% of the UK’s automotive industry R&D and this project will not only develop our expertise further but also shape important aspects of design and engineering that influence how customers feel about and interact with vehicles.”

The WMG researchers were able to use this technology to help Fabrication Techniques Racing (FTR) and their partner Stable Solution Ltd based in Wellesbourne in Warwickshire to laser scan a prototype engine for their racing bike.

Mark Butler Managing Director of Stable Solution Ltd said: 

“This technology allowed the development of a Digital Prototype, shortened our development time by 2 months and helped the bike be ready in time to finish in second place in the first ever Moto2 race in Qatar just last week .”

The bike itself was at the launch of the Centre on 20th May.

View original image">laser_scanning.jpgAnother local company to be one of the first through the doors of the new facility was Cab Automotive Ltd Tipton who manufacture high quality seats for the automotive industry and premium seating for niche transportation solution. They need to conduct detailed analysis of the quality of every weld joint but until now could only do so by physically cutting apart and dissecting every weld. By using PVCIT’s CT scanner they were able to use x-rays to precision scan every weld they needed in just 25 hours.

John Pendleton Managing Director of Cab Automotive said:

“The traditional approach of testing weld quality is simply to cut welds open and look inside. Getting access to the CT scanning method was significantly quicker, cheaper and effective. This non-destructive testing has already saved the company £50K in process savings. We can see how this technology can help us with quickly launching new products and processes to launch without having to go through lengthy new product development phases.”

View original image">mw.jpgThe PVCIT Centre formally launched on Thursday 20th of May with an address from Dr Mark Williams, PVCIT Principal Investigator; and a talk by Stephen Gray, Head of Clusters and Manufacturing for AWM, on how the Centre is already helping to stimulate the West Midlands’ economy.

More details at:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/research/pvcit/

and

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/research/pvcit/launch/

details on motorbike’s race performance at:

http://www.products.ftrmoto.com/news_pages.asp?ID=139

Stable Solution’s website http://www.stablesolution.co.uk/

For further information please contact:

Peter Dunn, Head of Communications 
University of Warwick 02476 523708  
mobile 07767 655860 p.j.dunn@warwick.ac.uk

PR41 PJD 20th May 2010