Nottingham-based Far-UK, a specialist manufacturer of composite material-based products, has signed up to the national SPRINT business support programme. The programme will provide Far-UK with funded access to advanced numerical optimisation expertise from the University of Southampton to support the development of a new range of safer, more lightweight, composite structures for spacecraft.
The University of Southampton has developed an advanced genetic algorithm methodology for the design optimisation of spacecraft structures. Far-UK will access these numerical optimisation methodologies to enhance its design processes, leading to safer and more efficient composite structures for automotive and space sector applications.
SPRINT will also provide Far-UK with access to the University’s IRIDIS5 supercomputer, the UK’s largest academic supercomputer, to speed up the verification process and for the required simulations.
The project will be funded by a grant from the £4.8 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme that provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses though the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.
Mark Lidgett, Senior Technical Specialist at Far-UK Ltd said: “Our work tends to be focused in the automotive markets and to continue to grow, we’re looking to move our composites technology into the space sector supply chain. However, to help us to achieve this, we’re looking to improve our analysis capabilities to make the production of our components more efficient.
“The expertise in utilising genetic algorithms for optimisation is extremely advanced at the University of Southampton and SPRINT has enabled us to engage with this expertise. We’ll be looking to embed these techniques into our processes to support the future development of space and automotive components, enabling us to provide a step change in performance.”
Dr Adam Sobey, Associate Professor in Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton added: “As Far-UK are looking to change their business focus from automotive to space, we can help them by implementing our world-leading genetic algorithms and using our optimisation expertise to automate their design processes.”
“It’s great to see UK industry utilising design optimisation algorithms and the SPRINT project provides us with the opportunity to see something built, bringing our theory into practice. This can then appeal to a wider range of industries and other universities, enabling lighter structures and improved efficiencies to deliver real economic and environmental savings.”
Picture caption: Triaxial weave fabrics designed by the Genetic Algorithm (cMLSGA) for application in flexible spacecraft antenna, that give a theoretical 1191% increase in performance over current materials