The announcement by McLaren’s Automotive to open a new £50m supercar factory in Sheffield is a welcomed vote for homegrown engineers, says NT CADCAM’s MD Chris Horn.
The new Composites Technology Centre, in partnership with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and Sheffield City Council, will be using advanced automated manufacturing techniques to develop the next generation of luxury cars, creating more than 200 new jobs, including 10 McLaren apprenticeships and generating more than £10m in cost savings for McLaren in sourcing parts locally.
“McLaren’s investment is a vote of confidence in UK engineering,” says Chris. “It isn’t looking around the corner, but 2-3 corners down the line of where the UK automotive industry needs to be. Building a facility on this scale is exactly what the UK car industry needs in terms of embracing and developing new technologies, boosting home-grown skilled labour and improving the British car supply chain.”
On average, just 41% of the car parts assembled in the UK are currently made on British soil. With some car components crossing the English Channel up to five times before they even go into a finished UK cari. The imminent end of free movement of goods when the UK leaves the EU, has added significant impetus to the McLaren’s announcement, which puts them alongside Nissan and Aston Martin who have also committed to make new models in the UK after Britain leaves the EU.
The new McLaren Automotive facility is due to start construction in early 2017 with the first pre-production carbon fibre chassis expected to be delivered later this year. Full production will begin in 2020. The company says by on-shoring manufacturing at the centre it will increase the average percentage of a McLaren car sourced in the UK from 50% to 58%.
Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive of McLaren Automotive, said: “The now iconic McLaren F1 road car was the world’s first to be built with a carbon fibre chassis and every car built more recently by McLaren Automotive has the same. Creating a facility where we can manufacture our own carbon fibre chassis structures is therefore a logical next step.”
Professor Keith Ridgway, AMRC’s Executive Dean, said he hoped that the new facility will act as a catalyst for supply chain companies to start building factories in Sheffield to supply the chassis plant.
“In many respects it represents a new model that repositions manufacturing in Sheffield, taking it from coal and steel to high performance components for the automotive, as well as the aerospace, sector.
“We’ve never had composite manufacturing skills in Sheffield and taking on 10 McLaren apprenticeships and 200 staff is a great thing to see happening. The real prize will be getting the supply chain to Sheffield and being able to offer composite supply panels, advanced engine design and one of the most advanced skills force all here in Sheffield.”
For more information read the University of Sheffield’s blog.
Bringing Additive Manufacturing to Formula 1
McLaren has also recently teamed up with Stratasys to supply McLaren Racing with a suite of 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions.
The four-year partnership means McLaren can now deploy 3D printing solutions to rapidly produce final 3D-printed race-ready parts for the MCL32 racecar. They can now use 3D printing at the race track itself to produce parts and tooling for immediate evaluation during races, practice sessions and tests.
For more information read the McLaren blog.
Still got your petrol head on? Read how one NT CADCAM customer reverse-engineered parts for a vintage Ferrari using SOLIDWORKS and Geomagic Design X Reverse Engineering Blog.
i Further Reading: The Guardian, A Mini’s incredible journey shows how Brexit will hit the UK car industry.