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Precision Engineering Institute

Experts in Precision Engineering

Cranfield University is world recognised for its excellence in precision engineering research, postgraduate training and industrial short course provision. The Precision Engineering Institute is comprised of experienced academic researchers and industrial engineers who specialise in:

  • Precision and ultra precision machine tool design and development
  • High performance and ultra precision machining
  • Micro-engineering
  • Metrology.

We lead two major EPSRC research centres:

We provide doctoral training into the EPSRC Doctoral Training Centre in Ultra Precision. This DTC is operated in partnership with the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge. The Centre aims to develop a training and research environment that delivers highly skilled precision engineers to industry.

Our research outputs have made significant impact across many fields of science and industries. The Precision Engineering Institute has:

  • Produced many of the mirrors of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (the Hubble replacement).
  • Designed, created and operate the world's leading facility producing large ultra precision structured drum tools for reel to reel production of advanced films. Over 24 companies worldwide are using this facility to create their film based products.
  • Produced the science equipment that NPL used to re-define the temperature scale - the Boltzmann constant facility.
  • Designed and built a large scale re-active atom plasma figuring system that can figure correct optics used in Fusion energy research facilities.
  • Produced the large prototype aspherised mirror segments of European Southern Observatory's Extremely Large Telescope.
  • Designed and built a highly compact ultra precision micro-milling machine capable of producing advanced infra-red (IR) optics and watch components.
  • Designed and built an ultra-precision grinding machine for production of free form optics for advanced lithography optics fabrication.

  • Supporting your business

    Outreach, collaboration and knowledge sharing are key activities of the Institute. We engage in 'large-scale' science programmes where we act as world-class engineering providers for complex machine systems and components. Such highly demanding projects provide a mechanism and stimulus for unique research, training and learning opportunities.

    Our significant industry-supported research includes contracts with aerospace, space, medical and optoelectronics orientated companies. The Precision Engineering Institute is a NASA approved supplier for space telescope mirrors including many of those being employed within the James Webb Space Telescope (the Hubble replacement). We also fabricate systems and components for the UK’s National Physical Laboratory, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and the European Southern Observatory.

  • Our people

  • Our facilities and resources

    Today the Precision Engineering Institute operates over 1000 m2 of temperature controlled precision engineering laboratory spaces at the Cranfield campus and at OpTIC Glyndŵr in Wales. Our laboratories house many unique ultra precision research facilities designed, manufactured and built by our own leading experts.

    All our laboratories are managed under strict health and safety guidelines and access is controlled to ensure we offer our customers security and maintain Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) compliance. Access to our leading Precision Engineering equipment is available on a commercial contract basis or through research collaborations.    

    • CUPE Laboratory

      The CUPE Laboratory is a 1000 metre2 temperature controlled facility (+/-1 Deg C thermal control accuracy) which houses ultra precision machines for a wide range of operations.

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    • Hexagon Loxham Laboratory

      The Hexagon Loxham Laboratory is a 600 metre2 temperature controlled facility (1 Deg C control accuracy) which houses ultra precision machines for large free form optics production

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    • Microengineering Laboratory

      UK’s leading specification thermally controlled 100 metre2 clean environment laboratory for supply space grade (flight approved) diamond turned optics.

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    • Surface Structuring Laboratory

      Leading manufacturer of large scale microstructured drum and large moulds used for the mass production of light handling products made through Reel to Reel production methods.

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    • Ultra Precision Machining Laboratory

      Ultra Precision Machining Laboratory (UPML) housing three CUPE designed and built machines. UPML is a 400 metre2 temperature controlled facility with a +/- 0.5 Deg C thermal control accuracy.

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  • Postgraduate degrees full-time

    Courses offered by this Centre are listed below. You can also view our related courses in Manufacturing

  • Postgraduate degrees part-time

  • Professional Development (CPD)

    • Online Learning – Principles of Engineering Integration

      07 September 2015

      In partnership with BAE Systems, the course provides understanding of the basic principles of engineering integration issues applied within business.

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    • Precision Engineering Industrial Short Course

      21 September - 25 September 2015

      A highly practical, results-orientated, intensive course covering the basic principles and state-of-the-art concepts to increase the precision, accuracy and reliability of machine tools and products.

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    • Surface Engineering and Coatings

      25 January - 29 January 2016

      To introduce the concepts of surface engineering and how surface engineering may be used to optimise a component’s performance.

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    • Concentrating Solar Power (CSP)

      22 March - 24 March 2016

      A three-day overview of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology with an emphasis on solar collectors, measurement, characterisation, and manufacturing.

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  • Current research projects

  • Publications

    • Abir J, Morantz P & Shore P (2015) Position errors due to structural flexible modes. In: 15th International Conference of the European Society for Precision Engineering and Nanotechnology, EUSPEN 2015, Leuven, 1.6.2015 - 5.6.2015.

    • Sansom C, Tonnellier X, Read R, Nicholls J & Dorey R (2014) Design and fabrication of a coating research machine to explore the nanometer scale coating of glass tubes for Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) systems. In: 14th International Conference of the European Society for Precision Engineering and Nanotechnology, EUSPEN 2014, Dubrovnik, 2.6.2014 - 6.6.2014.

    • Yu N, Jourdain R, Gourma M & Shore P (2014) Analysis of nozzle design used for the creation of advanced energy beam. In: 29th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Precision Engineering, ASPE 2014, Boston, 9.11.2014 - 14.11.2014.

    • Sansom C, Comley P, Bhattacharyya D & Macerol N (2014) A comparison of polymer film and glass collectors for concentrating solar power, Energy Procedia, 49 209-219.

    • Attia UM, Marson S & Alcock JR (2014) Design and fabrication of a three-dimensional microfluidic device for blood separation using micro-injection moulding, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Part B-Journal of Engineering Manufacture, 228 (6) 941-949.

    • Adebayo Y, Mehnen J & Tonnellier X (2014) Effects of solid lubricants on wire and arc additive manufactured structures, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Part B-Journal of Engineering Manufacture, 228 (4) 563-571.

    • Marson S, Villa R, Cardenas-Durazo I, Evans RW, Storti A, Heaume A, Marinello F, Carmignato S, Fairley M, Jennings P & Allen DM (2013) Sinusoidal CVD diamond micro-tools for the manufacture of microstructured surfaces used in bioremediation. In: 6th International Conference on Micro Manufacturing 2011 (ICOMM2011), Tokyo, 7.3.2010 - 10.3.2010.

    • Jourdain R, Castelli M, Shore P, Sommer P & Procia D (2013) Reactive Atom Plasma (RAP) Figuring Machine for Meter Class Optical Surfaces, Production engineering : research and development in Germany, 7 (6) 665-670.

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  • Case studies

  • News


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