AFRC secures £16.5m for major new advanced engineering facility | Glasgow Chamber of Commerce
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AFRC secures £16.5m for major new advanced engineering facility

The University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) has secured £16.5million to establish a major new advanced engineering facility that will put Scotland at the forefront of the movement to transform one of the manufacturing sector’s most traditional and important supply chains.

FutureForge, funded by the UK Aerospace Research and Technology Programme (delivered by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Innovate UK and the Aerospace Technology Institute), Scottish Enterprise and the AFRC’s High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult funding, will adjoin the world-renowned Renfrewshire-based centre and will revolutionise the global hot forging sector.

Set to begin operating in 2020, FutureForge will be the world’s most advanced hot forging research platform and will include a one-of-a-kind, industry 4.0 ready, demonstrator.

It will see the AFRC work with companies in the aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, energy, nuclear and rail industries helping companies to increase their global competitiveness. The facility will help generate around £40 million of new collaborative R&D projects over 10 years, creating up to 34 new jobs.

Speaking about the announcement, Scottish Government, Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee said: “I’m delighted to see this latest development for the AFRC. The new facility will put Scotland at the forefront of the latest industrial revolution, helping some of the most traditional manufacturing businesses and their supply chains embrace the latest in digital technologies. When I visited the centre last month, I was able to hear first-hand how the funding will be invested to develop this world leading technological capability.

Today’s news follows our announcement eight months ago that we are investing in a £65m National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS) in Renfrewshire, also in partnership with the University of Strathclyde. This latest project by the AFRC in the region highlights once again the importance of Scotland as a centre for cutting-edge manufacturing technology, and demonstrates our world leadership ambitions.”


Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “This new facility will be a real asset for the AFRC and its business partners, bolstering its already impressive capabilities and enabling further research collaborations to produce tangible impact for industry.

It demonstrates Strathclyde’s commitment to working together with industry on research, development and innovation and making Scotland a leading centre of manufacturing excellence.”

Talking about the new facility, Professor Keith Ridgway, Executive Chair at the AFRC said: “This is an exciting time for advanced engineering and manufacturing in Scotland.

This is the third big announcement in the past year and the country’s reputation as being the go-to place for the development of the next generation of manufacturing technologies is strengthening.

I’m thrilled that the Advanced Forming Research Centre is at the heart of all manufacturing R&D in the country and the FutureForge facility will see us transform the $268billion global forging supply chain. Taking it from a black-art with centuries of tradition and turning it into a competitive industry with advanced digitised capabilities fit for centuries to come. This project really will help secure the future of an industry that is vitally important to the wider manufacturing sector across the globe.”

Commenting on the FutureForge facility, Managing Director of Strategy and Sectors at Scottish Enterprise, Linda Hanna, said: “Scotland is already leading the way across the UK in metal forming research, manufacturing technology and innovation. This investment, however, will develop a unique forging capability, not available anywhere else in the world. It will help companies across Scotland develop next generation light weight products and give them increased competitive advantage in a global market place.


Together with the AFRC, we are focussed on achieving the ambition to grow Scotland’s high value manufacturing sector through increased innovation, productivity and investment. Today’s announcement forms a key part of that action plan.”


Last year the Scottish Government announced the creation of a £65m National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland (NMIS), with the Lightweight Manufacturing Centre opening in 2018 being established as a first step towards NMIS and the creation of a broader advanced manufacturing innovation district in the area.


The AFRC is a globally-recognised centre of excellence in innovative manufacturing technologies, engineering research and development, and metal forming and forging research.

For almost a decade the centre has been at the heart of manufacturing research in Scotland. It is the only High Value Manufacturing Catapult centre in the country, one of only 7 in the UK making it the critical link between manufacturers in Scotland and the rest of this world-class network of manufacturing innovation and expertise.

The AFRC helps to fill the gap between fundamental academic research and industry. We help companies to turn innovative technologies and ideas into a commercial reality that will increase their competitiveness, boost their business and secure the manufacturing sector in Scotland and the UK for generations to come.

  • £60m facility established in 2009
  • £38.5 million project portfolio
  • Over 400 projects; 331 with industrial clients
  • 5,680m2 research space


The globally unique project will see the development of a digitally focused environment for the hot forging industry. It will include a bespoke 2,000 tonne hydraulic press capable of operating in open-die, closed-die and isothermal modes, a fully integrated manipulator with industry 4.0 instrumentation all of which will have the ability to process parts of up to four metres in length with a diameter of 265mm and a one-tonne weight.

 The facility will support key areas of process innovation including:

  • data capture and process control
  • forging eDNA
  • truly predictive model generation through the capture of extensive process validation data
  • development of advanced new materials and future metallurgical concepts
  • a wide variety of product, process and material development

The facility will be housed in a 750m2 extension adjoining the AFRC’s existing building in Inchinnan, Renfrew. 

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