University of Nottingham & Advanex’s ‘deep drawing’ KTP opens up new markets
The University of Nottingham and Advanex, the European headquarters of global precision engineering solutions experts, Advanex Group have partnered in a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme funded by Innovate UK.
The Innovate UK-funded programme was developed to assist small and medium enterprises in improving their competitive edge by leveraging the technology and innovation produced by universities. It also aims to increase business productivity by applying the knowledge, technology, and skills that reside within universities.
The KTP was led under the guidance of Dr. Hengan Ou, who leads the research team in Metal Forming and Materials Processing as part of the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Group.
The original aim of the KTP was to develop and embed a simulation/scientific-based approach to design for the tooling and manufacture of metal components in order to optimise flow and minimise defects.
Deep drawing will support Advanex Group’s development in new markets
Advanex Group is a manufacturer of a broader range of precision metal parts. The company, through the expertise provided by the University of Nottingham, acquired a Japanese company that specialises in deep drawing.
Deep drawing is an advanced metal-forming process, and the purchase of the company will support Advanex Group’s development in new markets.
The acquisition was to support the company’s strategic aim to transfer contact probe production technology and another deep drawn product for a major medical device supplier from its Japanese company to Advanex Europe.
Advanex Europe Managing Director Ian Beardsmore said that the company’s KTP with the University of Nottingham has enabled the successful transfer of expertise and knowledge to Europe and developed the company’s relationship with its Japanese colleagues to support this technology.
Beardsmore added, “We are now in a far stronger position to take advantage of the opportunities we have with new deep-drawn opportunities than we were prior to the project.”
The KTP achieved a working Finite Element Analysis model of multi-stage deep drawing, giving an understanding of the effects of each material and tooling parameter on the deep drawing process, alongside existing practical experience from Japan.
This enabled a template to be created that allows easy design of tooling to manufacture customer-specific parts.
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Beardsmore explained, “We also previously lacked expertise in materials behaviour, formability and tribological effect and the KTP utilised the university’s knowledge base and its test equipment to provide an understanding of the impact of material properties on the manufacture of deep drawn parts.”
In addition, this partnership has helped the company to work with its suppliers to create a specification for them to work in order to deliver the right raw materials for the job.
Advanex Group provides design, development, manufacturing, distribution and support services across over 20 operations in Europe, Japan, South East Asia, and the USA.
Its main revenue-generating products are springs and wire forms for medical devices and Kato CoilThread wire thread inserts manufactured predominantly for the aerospace and electronics market.
Advanex also benefits from the addition of KTP associates from the University of Nottingham
Product and Process Development Manager at Advanex Europe, Mike Ribeaux who studied at the University of Nottingham and is a former KTP associate, said: “What the university provided, that we did not have, was an in-depth understanding of the deep drawing process.
In the UK we had zero understanding of deep drawn technology but with the support of the KTP, we now have a great deal of understanding that allows us to take a customer drawing and design the required tooling to manufacture the part.
Ribeaux added that an unexpected benefit to the company was the recruitment of KTP associate, Subha Tamang, to fill the knowledge and skills gap that would have been created by a senior technician retiring from Advanex Europe after 40 years’ service.
He added that the partnership facilitated an effective handover which saved both time and money for the company.
The University of Nottingham is the third-largest KTP provider in the UK. The university is part of 36 projects running and more than 120 in the past 12 years.
KTP Manager at the university, Paul Yeomans said the university’s partnership with Advanex Europe is a really good example of how working with a university on a KTP allows businesses to focus on their innovation and opens the door to their own bespoke research team.
Yeomans said, “The greater focus from government on productivity has also made this approach to knowledge transfer even more important, as there has been a growing realisation that all businesses need to innovate, grow and evolve.”