PRODUCT design and manufacture will be the big beneficiary of the results of a five-year £914,000 EPSRC-funded Fellowship project following the discovery of a unique mathematical foundation for decomposition - the process of separating a product into its constituent elements.
The breakthrough, in a project to develop the use of geometrical product specification systems, has led to additional EPSRC funding of £697,733 for a further three years' research.
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council invited an application for further funding from the University's Professor Paul Scott and his team of Dr Qunfen Qi and Dr Luca Pagani on the back of the initial success. The three are members of Huddersfield's EPSRC Future Metrology Hub.
The initial project, titled Controlling Geometrical Variability of Products for Manufacturing, aimed for greater accuracy in the manufacture of advanced and complex products offering more functionality and considerably lower manufacturing costs.
The find of the decomposition theory is the subject of one of the work packages of the newly-extended project. It will mean that "information regarding different manufacturing aspects can be gained, enabling characterisation and control of different aspects of the manufacturing process".
Other work packages will examine sensor networks and the creation of machine-readable information systems that will provide advanced manufacturers with access to a huge knowledge base.
The work will benefit advanced manufacturers in fields such as aerospace, optics, micro-electronics and medical devices. It will particularly aid the construction of complex products such as medical implants like knee and hip replacements, and a leading orthopaedic hospital has become a new partner in the project.
The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, the UK's leading institution in its field, aims to explore the potential of using decomposition techniques to produce a more accurate characterisation of implants such as joint replacements. The intention being to reduce the failure rate and significantly extend the life of the products.
A number of leading companies and institutes have also been alerted to the possibilities discovered by Professor Scott and his team. The extended EPSRC Fellowship has attracted a roster of partners, including the high performance computing firm OCF, the National Physical Laboratory and the ultra-precision technology company Taylor Hobson.