Creating a competitive advantage through R&D
A Sheffield Forgemasters International case study

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Page 4: Development

Sheffield Forgemasters International 18 Image 7Development involves turning ideas generated from research into a commercial product or process. The research stage might generate numerous ideas and a business then needs to select the appropriate ones to develop commercially. RD26 Ltd has a track record of turning ideas into commercial solutions, products and processes.

‘We have created new processes for manufacture in civil nuclear, such as the integral forging of nozzles into ultra-large components, the delivery of highly complex castings for offshore oil and gas exploration and we are now working with some of the world’s most renowned engineering companies [on] collaborative research and development work.’

Advances in materials and processes

Recent developments at SFIL have lead to advances in materials and processes. Material advances have allowed the company to develop products with higher strengths and toughness using specific grades of steel. This requires close control during the steelmaking process to produce ingots with the required quality. A major process development has enabled the company to forge large complex components for the nuclear industry. One component incorporates a support ring and integral forged nozzles. This combination of features has not been achieved by any other nuclear engineering company. Such new shape forgings create not only greater manufacturing efficiencies but also delivers a component that has higher integrity than one that has been machined and welded to create the same shape. To produce this component, new forging procedures were developed using specially designed tools. Everything was designed and fabricated in-house. This included designing the computer-controlled apparatus for localised heating of the component.

SFIL also created one of the largest tubesheets Sheffield Forgemasters International 18 Image 8ever produced by designing a special rotating forging tool and a six-metre diameter forging platform. This component, a perforated steel sheet with holes to accept pipes or tubes for use in civil nuclear power generation, had to meet exacting international nuclear standards at the first attempt. To support this work, RD26 Ltd has developed strong partnerships with UK universities, who contribute to the R&D process.

Sheffield Forgemasters International | Creating a competitive advantage through R&D