We are working towards sustainable manufacturing and materials sectors through fundamental science and thought leadership with solutions applying the philosophy of “Smart, Clean and Green”. We work from aerospace to automotive, pharmaceutical to bio-engineering, construction to railways. We provide insight into current industry challenges in fields as diverse as graphene technologies, metal additive manufacturing and life cycle analysis.
“I was already working with Additive Manufacturing. However, the course has significantly increased my knowledge of metal Additive Manufacturing and has given me the confidence to take on leadership roles in projects with more responsibilities. In addition, now having an MSc level education under my belt is a great enabler to pursuing more senior positions.”
Design Engineer, GKN Aerospace,
(Metal Additive Manufacturing MSc 2021)
UK No. 2
for production and manufacturing engineering PhDs.
(Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2020-2021)
UK Top 5
for engineering (Mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing).
(QS World University Rankings by subject 2023)
Over two-thirds of our Manufacturing and Materials learners come from outside the UK, representing 42 nationalities.
(Figures from July 2023)
Research in action
Making 3D printing a practical, sustainable proposition for industry
A configuration of WAAM3D’s plasma transferred arc end effector, as mounted on RoboWAAM’s robotic arm (photo credit: WAAM3D Ltd)
Cranfield has transformed the potential of metal 3D printing for industry, opening the way for major savings on energy and materials.
Traditional ‘subtractive’ methods of manufacturing lead to a great deal of waste. A typical airframe panel starts with ten or more times material than finally goes onto the actual aircraft.
The resulting technology, WAAM, uses an electric arc attached to the end of a robot to melt a wire and deposit molten metal in layers in a predetermined pattern. It is anticipated this could achieve savings of up to 80% in terms of the quantity needed of an energy intensive material such as titanium; along with 70% lower manufacturing costs.
WAAM3D a spinout company was set up to ensure a full supply chain for businesses, provision of technology, equipment, software, know-how training and support.
“My course has been a challenge I will not lie. However, it has been a challenge that is allowing me to learn a lot of aerospace materials, always from a sustainable perspective and I love that. It also has been an opportunity to look into aviation’s future and how advanced materials will allow us to reach zero emissions.”
current student, (Aerospace Materials MSc, Chevening scholar)
Research in action
Transforming the capability and productivity of UK industry with through-life engineering services
Through-life engineering services (TES) keep major assets like planes, ships and trains working better, for longer and more economically — so they keep their value and maintenance costs are kept to a minimum.
To unlock the benefits of TES for UK industry we created a new way of thinking about complex engineered assets. Our focus was on the root causes of component failure driven by degradation, maintenance requirements and obsolescence. This fed into the first work of its kind on improving system design processes in a way that would lead to cost reductions over the whole life of an asset.
Our work developed a new British Standards Institute (BSI) Publicly Available Specification (PAS) document on TES giving practical guidance to UK industry leaders.
Introducing TES has already saved the Ministry of Defence £33 million in reduced life cycle costs. Both Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems have already seen £2 million in savings in a single year.
“A highlight from my time at Cranfield has been the international connections I have made, as I have met students from different nationalities. I also really enjoyed working on the student group and individual projects, both projects have given me insight and hands-on experience into how to implement digitalisation in maintenance.”
current student, (Maintenance Engineering and Asset Management MSc)
Our world-class facilities include:
- Composites manufacturing: A full range of composite manufacturing facilities, including novel 3D techniques and reinforcement methods using sustainable natural fibres.
- Additive manufacturing: One of the most extensive large-scale metal additive manufacturing facilities in the world with a variety of state-of-the-art wires-arc and laser processing equipment.
- Materials characterisation suite: Students receive hands-on experience with a range of sophisticated techniques including electron and field ion microscopy.
- Smart manufacturing: We provide the capability to model and simulate manufacturing processes and whole factories including human behaviours.
- Specialist coatings: We are home to the National High Temperature Surface Engineering Centre and have multi-source coating machinery for the rapid development and testing of novel materials.
- Advanced materials laboratories: For the development and application of micro- and nano-scale materials, including manufacturing of carbon nanotubes, graphene and other functional materials.
Computerised Numerical Control (CNC) bubble multi-wire machine in the Welding, Engineering and Laser Processing Centre