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Measuring Large Objects with High Degrees of Accuracy

Engineers at the University of Bath have opened a new state-of-the-art laboratory that allows them to measure very large objects, such as aeroplane wings, to within a fraction of a millimetre.

University of Bath's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glynis Breakwell, and Managing Director of NPL, Dr Brian Bowsher, sign a Memorandum of Understanding (Credit: Nic Delves-Broughton, University of Bath)

The facility, named the Laboratory for Integrated Metrology Applications (LIMA), is based in the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and has strong links with the Department’s Innovative Design & Manufacturing Research Centre.

Metrology is the science of measurement, and the researchers at LIMA are working with a number of industry partners to develop new techniques for measuring large objects such as aeroplane wings and engine parts to accuracies that were not feasible before.

Another key objective of LIMA is to develop measurement-assisted automation that will revolutionise the way robots and machines are functioning.

LIMA’s partners include the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), metrology company Renishaw and other metrology vendors, five other universities and a wide range of advanced engineering and aerospace companies including, Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Vestas.

The laboratory was officially opened on 25 November by Mr Peter Mason, CEO of the National Measurement Office, in the presence of the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glynis Breakwell.

Peter Mason said: "It's great to see this sort of initiative that brings together government, the national measurement institutes, industry and academia, all focusing on a very clear requirement to apply measurement to the widest possible purpose.

“It has been a real pleasure for me to see these excellent facilities at first hand."

The University also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Physical Laboratory that will strengthen their future collaboration in advanced metrology research and development, and accredited services to industry.

Dr Graham Topley, Head of the Measurement Solutions Division at the National Physical Laboratory, said: “This event represents an important milestone in the development of our relationship with the University of Bath, as well as our collaborative business venture from LIMA.

“It also confirms very significant support and interest from our academic, governmental and industrial stakeholders.”

At the same event, the University also exchanged corporate gifts with Renishaw to mark the opening of the Renishaw Metrology Laboratory, within LIMA.

Professor Geoff McFarland, Group Engineering Director of Renishaw, said: “LIMA is the first lab of its kind. Integrated metrology is very important because it is bringing together research and practical application.”

Professor Paul Maropoulos, Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Chairman of LIMA, said: “We are delighted at Bath to be working with all the partners of LIMA to develop new metrology-enabled technologies and methods that will have applications in many industry sectors from aerospace, to wind turbines, power generation and healthcare.

“Today, we celebrate the formal opening of LIMA and the creation of strategic links with the National Physical Laboratory and Renishaw. We now starting work to develop research projects, accredited measurement services and training material that will address the industrial needs and generate economic impact.”


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