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Precision Engineering Institute
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
We lead two major EPSRC research centres:
- Integrated Knowledge Centre in Ultra Precision and Structured Surfaces
- Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Ultra Precision.
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.
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.
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.
Online Learning – Principles of Engineering Integration
Please enquire for course dates.
In partnership with BAE Systems, the course provides understanding of the basic principles of engineering integration issues applied within business.More
Reactive Atom Plasma (RAP) Figuring of Large Optics
RAP is an energy beam process which is ten times faster than ion beam figuring. It can produce ultra precise 1 metre size optics in less than 10 hours.More
Development and supply of the James Webb Space Telescope MIRI instrument spectrometer mirrors
Cranfield made over 400 mirror surfaces for the NASA/ESA James Webb Space Telescope. These highly complex mirrors were produced on a world-leading ultra precision machine design and built at CranfieldMore
Ultra-precision surfaces for next generation technologies
Ultra-precision technology advances have enabled the manufacture of advanced surfaces with accuracy never previously possible, with a wide range of new applications.More
Cranfield University wins funding to build a redistributed manufacturing network
25 March 2015
Cranfield is part of a bigger partnership network which is known as RECODE - The Big Data, Consumer Goods and redistributed manufacturing network.More