Summit Systems was astounded by the power and class of manufacturing equipment housed at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry. The company was treated to a tour of the world leading facility, which was set up to develop manufacturing processes and technology in partnership with industry and academia,  following its attendance at the ‘Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Automotive Components Section’ meeting this week

Intricate additive manufacturing technology using metal powders was demonstrated using a metal chess piece. Delegates first marveled at the detail of brickwork on a castle turret before being blown away by a perfect spiral staircase inside the piece. Net shape and additive manufacturing technology (or 3D printing) encompasses a suite of processes which offer unrivalled geometrical and material freedom, enabling complex high performance parts to be manufactured from a wide range of materials with very little waste.

The MTC is home to the National Centre for Net Shape and Additive Manufacturing.  The technology will support developments in the aerospace manufacturing sector and is also being developed to support space travel, as aircraft become equipped with CAD drawings and print spare parts to order. Jewellery manufacturers will use 3D printing to deliver designs impossible to make before.

One of the UK’s most powerful fibre lasers was demonstrated to the group. It is used by the MTC’s engineers to develop new welding processes which might have been technically possible in the past, but were not viable in volume manufacture due to cost and complexity. Intelligent automation examples included robotic arms working in unity as two people would. One collecting parts then applying them to a product while the other helps them.

Summit Systems Marketing Manager, Lorna Hopkin says:

“The technology at the MTC was incredible with projects from leading aerospace and automotive organisations. It is really empowering for young people to be able to learn the skills needed to thrive in tomorrow’s manufacturing world in such an inspiring environment.”

The MTC’s Lloyds Bank Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre will contribute to alleviating the skills gap within automotive and other sectors by “developing the vital skills required from the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technicians to deliver the technologies of the future.” This was a key theme to discussions by the SMMT Group.

Speakers discussed a multiple faceted skills problem including the movement of engineers away from the sector, global insecurity closing the door on international entrants and more and more staff passing retirement age. Bringing young people to engineering roles is imperative for the long-term sustainability of the sector. The MTC’s Lloyds Bank Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre provides a broad spectrum of graduate and technical courses.

Despite the skills bugbear and wider macro environmental factors impacting the sector, there was a general feeling of optimism with speakers remaining behind forecasts of 2million vehicles produced per year by 2020.

Summit Systems support plastics manufacturers within the automotive sector with the supply of plastics ancillary equipment. For more information call 01827 265843 or email