University of Warwick lab gives manufacturers laser vision
Powers like laser vision and x-ray eyes are now not only available to superheroes – they can now be accessed by manufacturers at a new Warwickshire laboratory.
The powers are part of the new £5 million Premium Vehicle Customer Interface Technologies (PVCIT) centre, which has opened at the Warwick Manufacturing Group, at the University of Warwick.
And one of the lab’s first successes has been helping a Midlands company build a superbike that has finished 2nd in the first ever MotoGP2 race in Qatar.
The centre brings together high resolution laser scanners, x-ray technology in a precision CT scanner and the UK’s highest resolution 3D ‘power wall’ visualisation system.
Dr Mark Williams, WMG researcher and PVCIT principal investigator, said: “West Midlands companies are already queuing up for free access to this technology which allows them to do everything from searching for microscopic defects deep inside welded components to laser scanning whole products as big as a car or van to create 3D models accurate to five thousands of a millimetre which they can then display and manipulate on the centre’s 3D power wall.”
The WMG University of Warwick researchers were able to use this technology to help Fabrication Techniques Racing and its partners Stable Solution, based in Warwickshire, to laser scan a prototype engine bikes prototype engine for their racing bike.
Mark Butler, managing director of Stable Solution, said: “This technology allowed us to develop a digital prototype, shortened our development time by two months and helped the bike be ready in time to finish in second place in the first ever Moto2 race in Qatar.”
The centre has been part-funded by Advantage West Midlands and the European Regional Development Fund.
It has also been used by Tipton-based seat manufacturer Cab Automotive, which needed to conduct detailed analysis of the quality of every weld joint.
Managing director John Pendleton said the company had previously only been able to analyse the joints by physically cutting apart and dissecting every weld.However, by using PVCIT’s CT scanner the firm was able to use x-rays to precision scan every weld they needed in just 25 hours.
Mr Pendleton said: “This non-destructive testing has already saved the company £50,000 in process savings. We can see how this technology can help us with quickly launch new products and processes to launch without having to go through lengthy new product development phases.”