Transcript for Manufacturing The Future Conference 2015 - interview with Professor Zhungyun Fan
My name is Zhungyun Fan, I'm Director of BCAST and also the Director of the EPSRC Centre for Liquid Metal Engineering (LiME). Liquid metal engineering is a subject which is very important to the UK economy. It is related to casting and solidification of metallic materials for automotive, aerospace and other engineering sectors. What we do with liquid metal is we manipulate liquid metal chemically, physically, to create the conditions which can create much better materials which have much better performance for engineering applications.
The hyper die casting process is the 'work horse' of the automotive industry, because of the high volume and the low cost. The only problem is the property and the mechanic performance is not as good as wrought alloys. Now what we're doing with hyper die casting is we treat liquid metal using liquid metal engineering techniques and then fit it to the hyper die casting machine to produce the component, which is near an 'S' shape with very little processing and you can directly apply it to cars and with much lower cost.
The automotive OEMs UK, they source their casting components from the UK or overseas and if liquid metal engineering technologies can be developed in full, which can develop new companies based in the UK, OEMs in the UK can then source their components from the UK. This is where the UK economy grows in a great way.
Research at BCAST, in combination with the EPSRC Centre LiME, carries a wide range of activities from very fundamental research from atomic level activities, to make structure control and developing technologies and industrial applications.
In the last 12 months, we've had a number of highlights. One highlight is our theoretical research, the new creative framework, has become nearly mature and we have been consolidating that. The second one is, we have been developing our capability to address the full economic value of fundamental research and scaling up technologies from universally proven sources. We have been successful with a HEFCE grant, an EPSRC grant, which allow us to build two buildings: the Advanced Metal Casting Centre and the Advanced Metal Processing Centre. These two buildings are going to host large scale processing facilities. They will be the country's unique asset for scaling up technologies for the liquid metal engineering area.
We were very excited to be grated the Future Manufacturing Hub, the Future LiME Hub, and with £10 million funding from EPSRC for fundamental research.