Heriot-Watt leads new national centre

A new £12m national centre, led by Heriot-Watt University, will develop new ways of using lasers in manufacturing, enabling industry to take advantage of the latest innovations and developments in this rapidly growing field.

Laser-based manufacturing is a global multi-billion dollar industry with significant business opportunities. The past 25 years have seen industrial lasers replace many 'conventional' tools in many diverse areas of modern manufacture, enabling increased productivity, functionality and quality.

The Heriot-Watt University-based EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Laser-based Production Processes, supported by £5.6m of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and £4.8m from UK manufacturing industry and involving other key UK research centres and industrial partners, will open the door to a diverse range of new laser-based production processes and technologies, helping UK industry to take maximum advantage of these major advances by bringing together a multi-disciplinary team of leading UK researchers and key industry partners.

The Centre's team of leading academics and UK industry partners will run a wide-ranging programme of coordinated research and network building which will enable significant business growth opportunities, stimulate the broader UK community, provide leadership in developing public policy, infrastructure access for SMEs, and education and training for the industry.

Professor Duncan Hand, Director of the new Centre, said, "Lasers have a major role in high value production, and are essential tools for a developed economy such as the UK to successfully compete on the world manufacturing stage.

"Laser processes provide high quality, high precision readily-automated manufacturing solutions, with excellent repeatability whilst retaining a high degree of flexibility, which allows mass customisation and design modifications.

"A major goal of the new Centre is to double the use of lasers in UK manufacturing industry in the next five years."

EPSRC's Chief Executive, Professor David Delpy said, "EPSRC Centres of Innovative Manufacturing are building on previous investments we have made in the research base and combining academic innovation with industry knowledge. These new centres are in areas that are strategically important to the UK and the work there will push research boundaries and drive growth."