Recent news of the manufacturing and construction sectors indicates that order books in the UK manufacturing sector are growing at the fastest pace for four years as the weak pound and global growth bolsters demand for manufactured goods.

An industry event held at Cranfield University this week was debating much longer-term global challenges for manufacturing research and education.


The materials we make, how we make them and how we will use them in the future, was the theme of this year’s Manufacturing 2075 symposium. Hosted by the University, it provided a forum to consider the challenges faced by modern manufacturing and the research and skills that will be needed in the future. 


Professor Rajkumar Roy, Director of Manufacturing at Cranfield University, said: “As a global community, we need to look ahead to identify the likely research challenges of the far future. People are living longer, so we should be looking at how this will impact manufacturing, using resources sustainably, but still satisfying demand. It will help us to anticipate the requirements of societal and industrial users and ensure we are in a position to provide timely, relevant and credible technologies and advice, education and knowledge, and products and practical solutions.”

The seminar builds on Cranfield’s annual 'Manufacturing on the Moon’ National Apprenticeship Competition.  It provided the opportunity to reflect on the broader challenges and context for manufacturing research in 2075 across multiple sectors including aerospace, defence, space, automotive, oil and gas, food, pharmaceuticals and processing.

International speakers included Benoit Gauthier from Airbus, who explained the company’s future plans involving the electrification of air travel. Its partnership with Siemens and Rolls-Royce will produce an E-fan X hybrid-electric demonstrator plane by 2020, paving the way for the era of CO2-free air travel. Other presenters included Professor Phil Withers from Henry Royce Institute, Professor Sam Turner from HVM Catapult, Dr Advenit Makaya from the European Space Agency and academics from Manchester, Cardiff and Cambridge Universities who joined Cranfield staff in explaining how future materials behave and their potential integration into future manufacturing systems. 


Local schools, including Bedford Modern School, Kimberley College and Bedford School, joined the event with around 90 pupils, aged 16-19 years, attending the morning presentations, providing them with the opportunity to hear about real-life future solutions. They also visited the future technology exhibition which showcased the latest, emerging potential technology.

The afternoon provided schools with the chance to work with academics in small workshops to consider ‘what lifestyle changes may happen by 2075’, ‘how trends create manufacturing challenges’ and ‘the impact to the materials supply chain’. They were given the opportunity to come up with fresh ideas of their own and work collaboratively between schools.

A post-event report will be produced to encourage a long-term manufacturing research and education debate in the UK and around the world.

Student tries out augmented reality glasses
Student tries out augmented reality glasses

Notes for editors

Cranfield Manufacturing

We provide world-class and niche research, education, training and consultancy in manufacturing and play a key role in ensuring that the UK remains at the cutting edge of manufacturing research.

We are unique in our multi-disciplinary approach by bringing together design, technology and management insight. We are a driving force for both the rapid growth of established areas of manufacturing expertise and the development of new research areas.

Research partnerships are undertaken with more than 500 organisations of all sizes and disciplines and industry advisory panels ensure our graduates move seamlessly from the academic world into the world of work and provide skills the sector needs.

Our world-class facilities include the Ultra Precision Machining Laboratory, which houses a range of ultra-precision diamond turning machines and is the UK's national facility for large x-ray optics manufacture.

We lead two ESPRC centres for Innovation Manufacturing in Ultra Precision and Through-life Engineering Services.


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About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.