Construction has begun on a Rolls-Royce facility that will manufacture single-crystal turbine blades for large civil aeroengines at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham. The advanced blade casting facility will create 150 jobs once up and running, producing 100,000 blades per year.
Business secretary Vince Cable said: “Today is further evidence of Rolls-Royce's strong commitment to the UK and the strength of advanced manufacturing we have in this country.
This new facility is good news not just for Rolls-Royce and the local area but for our aerospace sector and the wider economy too. It provides a good example of business and government working together to deliver growth.”
Mike Mosley, executive vice-president of turbines at Rolls-Royce, said: “The advanced blade casting facility will use cutting-edge manufacturing techniques to produce single-crystal turbine blades, which play a critical role in jet engines and must withstand incredibly harsh conditions.”
The first blades are set to roll out of the 14,000m2 facility in late 2014. It will be one of the most advanced blade casting facilities in the world and use 3D structured light for geometry inspection.
Each blade will be cast to form a single crystal of super alloy, making it extremely strong and able to resist the intense heat inside a jet engine.
Simon Spode, marketing manager at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP), said that the new facility is a key milestone in the history of the park. He said: “It was always envisaged that the AMP would accommodate both world-class research organisations and high-quality production facilities.
“With the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing, Castings Technology International, TWI and the Nuclear AMRC on the AMP, we had already achieved the first of these aims. Now with Rolls-Royce gearing up for production of their aerospace turbine blades we begin to achieve the second of these challenges too.”
The advanced blade casting facility is the first of three Rolls-Royce facilities planned for the site. The company hopes to build a factory to manufacture, assemble and test components for nuclear power stations, and a smaller factory that can house a supplier in the future.
Rolls-Royce has invested more than £950 million in infrastructure in the UK over the past five years.
During his visit to the AMP, Cable also announced an £80 million package to keep the UK at the forefront of advances in aerospace and advanced manufacturing.
More than £60 million will be invested in a series of collaborative research and technology projects, with £25 million of the bill footed by the government and a further £40 million coming from business, led by Rolls-Royce.
The project, known as SAMULET II – Strategic Affordable Manufacturing in the UK through Leading Environmental Technology – will investigate new manufacturing processes aimed at increasing productivity and making the best use of resources. u2028u2028
Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, which will deliver the programme, said: “Innovation in advanced, high-value manufacturing is fundamental to our future success and is a major driver of economic growth.
“Aerospace is one sector where we do have truly world-class capability. We are the number one in Europe and have the second-largest industry in the world. The government will continue to work with business to help deliver growth to the aerospace industry.”