The Nuclear AMRC has a dedicated facility in Birkenhead to develop modular manufacturing techniques for nuclear applications.

Modular manufacturing involves the off-site assembly of large-scale complex systems, which are then transported to site for final installation. These techniques are already widely used in shipbuilding, aerospace and other safety-critical industries – in the nuclear sector, they can significantly reduce construction risk and help deliver new power stations to schedule and cost.

The Nuclear AMRC Birkenhead facility was opened in July 2017, and is hosted by Cammell Laird, a tier one member of the Nuclear AMRC.

The facility includes a workshop of around 1,000m2, office and conference rooms. The workshop is now being fitted out with a range of advanced facilities to meet industry needs – initial equipment includes polymer-based additive manufacturing and visualisation technologies to support modular design.

Work will address modular manufacturing for new reactors of all sizes, as well as the challenges of decommissioning and waste management.

An initial work programme will develop a through-life modularisation product structure. This is a systematic approach which can be used in the early design process for complex assemblies, to consider factors such as design style, modules boundaries, interfacing methods and the degree of modularity required. Ultimately, the method will provide a tool for reducing risk in manufacturing and construction, and enable on-schedule and on-cost delivery of a modular system which is readily maintainable throughout its required service life including decommissioning.

For more information, contact Miguel Garcia, Nuclear AMRC modules technical lead.

Current equipment at the Nuclear AMRC Birkenhead facility includes:

Virtalis ActiveWall

  • 2.7 metre wide single-screen system with 3D short-throw projection and 4K resolution.
  • Can be viewed by up to 12 people.
  • Can be linked to off-site VR facilities for collaborative working.

Wearable VR/AR technology

  • Hands-free technology for virtual reality and augmented reality.
  • Current equipment includes HTC Vive and Microsoft HoloLens.
  • Applications in collaborative design, training, guided assembly, repair and maintenance.

Stratasys F270 3D printer

  • Rapid prototyping to support the design process for modular assemblies.
  • 305 x 254 x 305mm build volume.
  • Four material spool bays – three for model (ABS-M30, PLA, ASA) and one for support (QSR).
  • GrabCAD Print software.

Capabilities under development include:

Virtual sandbox

  • Virtual environment to allow people to naturally and collaboratively explore large complex designs.
  • Develop low-cost virtual tools and demonstrators to support modularisation.
  • Create a low cost alignment/metrology demonstrator for modules and ultimately support the development of a model-based systems engineering (MBSE) / VR tool.
  • Equipped using low-cost off-the-shelf technology, allowing cost-effective adoption by SMEs.

Flow line assembly for modular manufacturing

  • Flexible production line to develop and prove modular manufacturing techniques for nuclear applications.
  • Selection of specialised machining, joining and assembly equipment.