AMCASH

Advanced Materials Characterisation and Simulation Hub logo with University of Birmingham and European Regional Development Fund logoThe AMCASH project is an ERDF part-funded initiative established to support small-to-medium businesses (SMEs) across 2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas, Black Country and Coventry and Warwickshire.

The AMCASH project, which is a part-funded ERDF programme, is co-ordinated through the School of Metallurgy & Materials at the University of Birmingham. The project offers regional SME organisations technical assistance of typically a 2-day duration, within materials science related projects.

The initial AMCASH project ran from January 2017 until December 2019, however the project successfully met its business engagement targets, thus the team have successfully extended the AMCASH funding with the ERDF and the MHCLG bodies for a further three years, and will now run until December 2022.

COVID-19: AMCASH continues to provide business support

Throughout this period of disruption AMCASH continues to provide fully-funded business support for SMEs.  Currently the University of Birmingham is operating a restricted campus with the majority of University staff now working remotely.  In line with this the AMCASH team is currently home-based. However, AMCASH is still available to deliver fully-funded support to SMEs, providing R&D assistance to develop new products and processes, supporting the creation of new business and employment opportunities.  We are still delivering ongoing projects and we are scoping new projects with a number of SMEs.  Whilst we shall engage in new support projects, current restrictions on University operations will limit our scope of work to exclude laboratory-based activities.

Please contact us to discuss your business support needs and we shall work with you to define support projects.  We are able to offer a minimum of two days’ of fully funded consultancy for qualifying SMEs in our target LEP areas.

The AMCASH project specifically covers the following technical areas:

 

Project Offering to SMEs

We are able to offer a minimum of two days work for qualifying SMEs. In order to qualify, the SME must be based within one of the four target LEP areas, and meet the financial definitions of an SME organsisation, namely having less than 250 employees, and less than €50M turnover.
AMCASH offers a wide range of support to SMEs, including:

  1. Access to research and development facilities at the University
  2. Analytical services
  3. Contract research
  4. Consultancy
  5. Collaborative projects

Equipment Available

In order to best address and support the needs and project requirements of the regional SMEs, the project has access to a number of useful equipment for use on AMCASH assist projects, in the following key themed areas:

Microscopy & Characterisation:

  • Numerous Jeol and FEI Scanning Electron Miscroscopes (SEM)
  • Numerous FEI and Jeol Transmission Electron Microscopes (TEM)
  • Dimension 3100 Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)
  • UES Robomet3D tomography
  • Nikon H225 X-ray tomography (XRT / CT)
  • FEI Quanta 3D FEG Focused Ion Beam (FIB) SEM
  • FEI Talos 200X Scanning / Transmission microscope (S/T EM)
  • Bruker S2 Ranger X-ray Flourescence (XRF)

Polymer Science:

  • Hot Press
  • Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) - Mettler DSC1 and FLASH DSC fast scanning chip-calorimeter
  • Laser FLASH - Netzsch 427 Laser Flash Apparatus
  • Infra-red spectroscopy (FTIR) – ThermoNicolet 8700
  • Hot-stage microscopy – polarised optical microscope with a Linkam hot-stage.
  • Dynamic mechanical thermal analysis (DMTA) - Polymer Labs/ Netzsch DMTA.
  • Dielectric thermal analysis – Polymer labs DETA and Solartron impedance analyser.
  • Thermal mechanical analysers (TMA) – dilatometer.
  • Rheology – Malvern Kinexus Pro Rheometer, TA Instruments Ares Rheometer.
  • Mechanical Testing – Instron 5566.
  • Thermal Gravimetric Analysis (TGA).

Computational Modelling:

  • Numerous academic-licenced CFD and FE commercial software packages.
  • The University of Birmingham super-computer, BlueBEAR
  • Data-storage backed-up network drives
  • Micro-epsilon TIM160 Thermal Imaging camera
  • Photron Fastcam Mini UX100 High Speed camera
  • Thermocouple data-logger
  • Micro-Epsilon optoNCDT laser triangulation sensors
  • Infra-red Thermometer

AMCASH Team

The AMCASH team consists of 8 full-time Research Fellows, a project manager and two staff responsible for business engagement activities, working for the technical-lead academic staff. The research staff have different areas of expertise covering the three technology areas of the AMCASH project. 

SME Business Engagement:
Michael Small 

Omar Bellfield

Project Management: 

LiPing Byron-Liu

Microscopy and Materials Characterisation:
Dr Minshi Wang
Dr Subash Rai
Dr Gnanavel Thirunavukkarasu
Dr Xinyu Lu

Polymer Science:
Dr Catherine Kelly
Dr Kate Robbins

Computational Modelling:
Dr Richard Turner

Ceramic Engineering: 

TBA

Upcoming AMCASH Events

AMCASH Events Update:

During 2020 the AMCASH project will continue our events, with technical workshops including Microstructure & Mechanical Properties; Polymer Processing; and Ceramic Engineering.

Due to the current limitations on our operations, we have had to re-schedule our planned events until later in 2020.  Further information on our programme will be posted here.

AMCASH News

Business Engagement Manager - Michael Small

Mike joined the AMCASH team following ten years in the group marketing department of HVAC giant, BDR Thermea Group, develping innovative heating solutions. Mike supported BDR's efforts in several areas, including; combined heat & power (CHP), hydrogen fuel cell development, digital services, market segmentation and strategic partnering.  As a boad member of Cogen Europe, Mike also supported CHP industry development. Prior to entering the energy & heating sector, Mike had roles in leading companies across a range of industries; including polymers, construction, telecoms. He has a track record of success in commercialising innovative solutions to meet the needs fof businesses and consumers. Having worked for, and supported, SMEs within funded projects, Mike is well prepared for his role within the AMCASH team.

 

Project Extension

The AMCASH project was successfully extended for a further 3 years, currently for the Coventry & Warwickshire, and The Black Country local enterprise partnership regions (LEPs). To find out your regional LEP area, please see the LEP network website.

COVID-19

The AMCASH project intends to continue our R&D support for regional SMEs as best possible during the COVID-19 outbreak, to establish their needs and identify opportunities to support. Whilst we shall engage in support projects, current restrictions on University operations will limit our scope of work to exclude laboratory-based activities.

Please contact us to discuss your business support needs and we shall work with you to define support projects.  We are able to offer a minimum of two days’ of fully funded consultancy for qualifying SMEs in our target LEP areas.

AMCASH Videos & Media

  A guide to the SME support we can offer.

Materials Characterisation & Microscopy

 

Polymer Science

Computer Modelling

 

AMCASH Case studies

Reducing defects in Forgings

AMCASH was contacted by a drop-forging company based in the Black Country, specialising in complex geometries and difficult to forge material.  The company wished to know how “fissure-features“ formed, and how they could be eliminated. The fissures were investigated using the University’s Centre for high resolution microscopy for a detailed material characterisation study. A number of positive outcomes ensued:

•  A greater understanding of forging, throughout the supply chain

•  Cost savings and environmental benefits by reducing scrappage

•  Faster process development, taking pressure off R&D activities

From our work with AMCASH we have increased our knowledge of fault diagnosis related to aluminium processing. This hopefully will lead to the company increasing our process capability for all specifications of aluminium grades

AMCASH-CASEStudynew

Contact Us:

To contact the business engagement team for the AMCASH project:

 

  • Name

 

Telephone: +44 (0)121 4143436, OR email: AMCASH@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Further information on the AMCASH project can be found on our external website.

 Advanced Materials Characterisation and Simulation Hub logo with University of Birmingham and European Regional Development Fund logo