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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S033300/1
Title: Advanced Freeform Generator
Principal Investigator: Jiang, Professor Dame X
Other Investigators:
Walker, Professor DD Ball, Professor AD Blunt, Professor L
Tong, Professor Z
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Computing and Engineering
Organisation: University of Huddersfield
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 19 August 2019 Ends: 30 September 2021 Value (£): 804,005
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufacturing Machine & Plant
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
27 Mar 2019 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel March 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Freeform and micro/nano-structured functional surfaces underpin many next generation engineering products like novel optics (lenses/mirrors) used in astronomy, semiconductor manufacture, imaging and illumination systems in aerospace and automotive sectors, as well as various micro/nano-structured surface-enabled self-clearing/anti-icing products. There is a huge scientific 'push' and technology 'pull' for more adventurous surfaces with substantial functional advantages. However, due to the limitation of machining reliability and efficiency of current micro- and nano-manufacturing technologies, it remains challenging to make these products at a high-volume production scale. The need for the development of novel/improved manufacturing processes and future ISO standards for freeform and structured surfaces is now more urgent than ever.

A new, highly specialised, and exciting piece of equipment, the Nanotech650FGV2, has the potential to address this need. It possesses diamond turning and raster fly-cutting functions, fast-tool-servo and slow slide servo elements, and micro milling and grinding spindles. The acquisition of a Nanotech650FGV2 would significantly enhance the University of Huddersfield's Centre for Precision Technologies' (CPT's), and indeed the UK's, capability to generate more severe and advanced functional surfaces feeding into areas of novel optics, new surface functionalities and ultra-precision manufacture.

The proposed strategic equipment will enable breakthrough research on novel multi-freeform optics for disruptive embedded sensor/instruments, novel hierarchical patterned surfaces for functional orientated applications and GDT for complex surface manufacturing. The research programme will lead to a step-change in ultra-precision freeform manufacturing in terms of complexity of surface geometry and texture, new/improved machining technology on novel engineering materials, and in-depth understanding of structure, processing, dynamics and surface functionalities.

The major usage of the equipment will focus on the manufacturing of freeform and structured surfaces to address the EPSRC Future Metrology Hub's Grand Challenges in embedded metrology (where new complex optics are critical for miniaturised sensors/instruments, for example, multiple freeform surfaces in a single optical component allow simultaneous correction of light aberrations in sensors/instruments) and the Hub's Platform Research Programme in functional surfaces (for example, hierarchical structured surfaces will allow incorporation of multiple functions into a single surface morphology). It will also be widely used for CPT's research in on-machine technology development, surface integrity, tooling, in-line measurement and process control. To ensure maximum usage, the machine will be offered as a research platform for collaborative research projects, and as a demonstrator facility for short programmes (typically 1-3 days) of "pump-priming" experiments through an online booking system.

Furthermore, the capability of the Nanotech650FGV2 will open a new avenue for CPT to explore frontier technologies and allow fast prototyping/development of novel optical devices and subsystems. Prototypes derived from this equipment will be quickly demonstrated and validated by UK partners, e.g. Catapult centres and technology developers, industry end-users, through the Metrology Hub to UK industry. The knowledge created will help to develop national and international standards to rapidly support production of new high added value products like compact/minimized micro-objective systems and spectra instruments for wider embedded metrology applications in UK smart manufacturing. The research enabled by the Nanotech650Gv2 directly aligns with the UK Government's Industrial Strategy and EPSRC Manufacturing the Future theme to support high value manufacturing and deliver significant economic impact in the next 10-50 years.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Organisation Website: http://www.hud.ac.uk