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Forgemasters expands as technology takes over

28 June 2012

Sheffield Forgemasters has capitalised on its technological expertise and pioneering work into engineering research and development by launching a groundbreaking new company.

The creation of Sheffield Forgemasters RD26 Ltd underpins landmark developments, which have enabled the 200-year-old company to become a world-leader in the manufacture of high-technology components for a diverse range of markets.

RD26 Ltd is headed by Professor Jesus Talamantes-Silva, supported by a highly qualified team, and working with visiting PhD students and graduates from UK universities. The new company will service Forgemasters’ internal work and aims to take on an increasing volume of external contracts.

Dr Graham Honeyman, chief executive of parent company, Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd (SFIL), said: “Research and development is the fastest growing area of this company and is fundamental to the strategy of the business.

“The launch of RD26 Ltd is the culmination of many years’ hard work by Professor Talamantes-Silva and his team to break new ground in engineering technologies and it marks the next stage in Forgemasters’ growth.”

The new company, SFIL’s seventh subsidiary, frees up the Research and Development division to offer its services externally, a process which has already begun with enquiries and quoted work into new markets, including civil nuclear projects and the design of large-scale pressure vessels to the US.

Professor Talamantes-Silva, managing director of RD26, said: “What we have created at Sheffield Forgemasters since the management buyout in 2005 is a unique facility to conduct research and development work on live projects.

“There are few places in the world which can offer this kind of opportunity to refine systems away from the academic sphere and across such a broad series of manufacturing processes.

“The resources here are enabling us to take on increasingly technical challenges and to look at entirely new ways of creating components, which allows for greater manufacturing efficiency and stronger, lighter, more complicated end products.

“Our markets are diversifying all of the time and we have created new processes for manufacture in civil nuclear, such as the integral forging of nozzles into ultra-large components, the delivery of highly complex castings for offshore oil and gas exploration and we are now working with some of the world’s most renowned engineering companies to deliver collaborative research and development work.

“We have found that clients are keen to work with us right from the design level and to engage with that part of the process rather than simply handing the project over. The research and development facility enables us to be much more flexible in defining the characteristics of each component and tailoring the manufacture process to suit.”

RD26 will also continue to provide research and development support for SFIL’s ground-breaking technology transfer agreements with emerging economies, such as those undertaken for India’s BHEL and TAYO power generation giants – contracts valued at more than £30m.

Professor Talamantes-Silva, who is a visiting professor at the University of Sheffield, also sits on the research board at the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research.

Dr Honeyman was named winner of the 2012 Bessemer Gold Medal by The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) after judges decided his work has promoted the manufacture of engineering components of national and international importance.