ASTUTE: The EU-backed Advanced Sustainable Manufacturing Technologies (ASTUTE) project aims to enable the manufacturing industry in West Wales and the Valleys to grow by adopting more advanced technologies, and at the same time improving sustainability by reducing environmental impacts.
To achieve these objectives, a Partnership of Universities throughout Wales draws on their collective advanced engineering, science and business expertise to help improve the economic prosperity of the Convergence Region. ASTUTE has been part-funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
The £27million project targets the aerospace and automotive sectors, as well as other high technology manufacturing companies to create sustainable, higher value goods and services and bring them to a global market. The project is led by Swansea University, in collaboration with the Universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Cardiff Metropolitan, Glyndwr, Swansea Metropolitan, University of Wales Trinity St David and the University of South Wales.
Since the start of the project in May 2010, ASTUTE has already worked successfully with more than 200 Welsh companies across a range of diverse sectors. Examples of the diverse expertise available from the 30-strong ASTUTE team at Swansea University are Computer modelling of stress in automotive components, aerodynamic prediction of fluid flow around aircraft, electron microscope examination of cast metallic alloys and the improvement of process efficiency. To help enable the success of the ASTUTE project, recent strategic purchases of appropriate, advanced technology have been made.
Prof Johann Sienz, ASTUTE Project Director said “Centred at Swansea University’s College of Engineering, the ASTUTE team of engineers is dedicated to working with manufacturing companies in West Wales and the Valleys. Although the Swansea team already had access to a wide range of existing material testing equipment at the University’s Materials Research Centre, to help enable ASTUTE’s objectives to be accomplished, further investments in state-of-the-art equipment have recently been made.
Dr Elizabeth Sackett, ASTUTE Project Officer explained “Typical of our advanced material testing purchases are two recently installed NEXUS 4000 range, Vickers hardness testers. Our new NEXUS 4301 model covers application loads from 1kgf to 31.25kgf, whilst our NEXUS 4302 works in the range 0.3kgf to 30kgf.
“Having reflected on the merits of several other bench hardness testers with similar working ranges, following a demonstration by Bowers Group, our team considered the NEXUS models not only to be technically superior to the alternatives, but also to be the best value for money.
“Although some of the other available hardness testers had a certain amount of the up-to-date technology that is integrated into the NEXUS range, the models that we purchased represented the most advanced total package. The inclusion of state-of-the-art hardness testing technology should ensure that our new, technically superior hardness testers will remain ‘future-proof’ and provide many years of highly accurate service.
“Now in regular use, our new, easy to use hardness testers are delivering excellent levels of accuracy and repeatability.”
Launched recently by the busy CV arm of Bowers Group, the innovative NEXUS 4000 range of Micro/Macro/Vickers hardness testers provides high accuracy and unmatched repeatability. This is achieved by utilising state-of-the-art closed loop, load cell technology and a patent pending force feed-back system. Bowers claims that the advanced new range gives the user unmatched speed of operation and the highest possible system accuracy.
As the Nexus 4000 range is extremely accurate yet easy to use, since its launch the new hardness testers have enjoyed high volumes of sales to a wide cross section of customers. In addition to material testing laboratories and academia, as the robust range is at home within harsh environments, many sales have been made to UK industry.
Eliminating outmoded weights and complex mechanical control systems, the cost effective new Nexus 4000 range uses recently developed advanced sensor technology to create a new industry standard for Vickers hardness testing. The sophisticated new closed-loop system accurately applies force, calculates, filters and controls digital data within a powerful 32-bits embedded CPU system.
The advanced hardness testers use sophisticated algorithms to detect contact between the indenter and the object’s surface, removing the potential of overshoot. In addition to the location of the indenter and the positioning of the pre-determined objective, the application and removal of the Nexus 4000 range’s test force is fully automatic. The result is a flawless absolute vibration-free operation that reduces the operator’s input to a minimum.
The 3 tester options available, classed by load application, are the NEXUS 4301 covering 1kgf to 30kgf, the NEXUS 4302, 0.3kgf to 30kgf and the NEXUS 4303, 0.5kgf to 30kgf. The 4 position turret testers can be customised by the use of a wide choice of indenters, objectives, stages or Video systems, meeting the specific needs of all users.
Bowers claims that the new testers’ long list of advanced features belies the range’s cost effective price, they include – a test force accuracy < +/-1% across the full range, a display resolution of 0.1 HV or HK, hardness conversions to Rockwell C, Rockwell B, Rockwell A, Brinell, Leeb, and statistical calculations including total test, max, min, average, range and standard deviation.
All hardness readings can be downloaded to data collection devices, printers and computers via the units’ bi-directional RS-232 output port, whilst instant hard copies of hardness values can be achieved by using the testers’ integral, high-speed thermal printer.
For more information on Micro/Macro/Vickers hardness testers click here.