Case Study - AMRC



Virtalis is proud to have two ActiveWorks systems installed in AMRC’s £10 million “Rolls-Royce Factory of the Future” in Sheffield.

In addition, Virtalis has supplied the expertise and equipment that’s enabling the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s MANufacturing Technology TRAnsporter (MANTRA) to have the first ever mobile Virtalis ActiveWall system.  MANTRA is a specially modified demonstration HGV that travels the UK demonstrating the latest manufacturing, machinery and simulation technologies.


The University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, is a collaboration between world-leaders in the aerospace supply chain, key government offices and international academic institutions.  AMRC’s facility is dedicated to developing the new, technology-driven solutions for materials-forming, metal-working, and castings; helping UK manufacturing to remain competitive.


Virtalis became a member of the AMRC in 2006.  The AMRC and Virtalis have informally collaborated on various projects over almost a decade.  Virtalis is now involved in all AMRC projects involving a simulation element.


“Using Virtual Reality (VR) for design reviews is a widely accepted practice, but we are using advanced visualisation techniques for analysing how composites react to the forces put on them by robots and other manufacturing techniques.  Only by understanding a material’s flexibility can we begin to create a virtual assembly.  Sometimes modelling in a virtual environment shows you what is not achievable and narrows down design choices; sometimes it merely confirms a design.”
Professor Keith Ridgway, Research Director and HEFCE business fellow at the AMRC

generic-h-small_amrctruck-systemMuch of what the AMRC tries to achieve is to attempt to find simple ways to reduce waste and cost and to speed up processes to give the businesses it works with a competitive advantage.  Researchers create different concept methodologies in CAD, and subsequently VR, before using their ActiveWorks systems to communicate their ideas.

Like Virtalis, AMRC works with all the main CAD companies, so the resultant models can be easily integrated into the companies’ current way of working. For Sandvik, the Swedish cutting tool company and partner of AMRC, the team has created an analysis using VR to compare whether using a single tool for multiple solutions or using several different tools used uniquely would be the best solution for an application. Other multi-million pound projects focus on simulated manufacturing and assembly within virtual environments.


AMRC’s ActiveMove has been taken all over the world and combines best in class technology. It is one of the smallest systems in the Virtalis ActiveWorks family of 3D immersive visualisation solutions. ActiveMove is perfect for those users looking for a cost effective and transportable solution that can be quickly assembled for department presentations, marketing seminars, trade shows, training workshops or research programmes.

ActiveWall is an installed, immersive, interactive 3D visualisation system that is the industry benchmark for both price and performance. It is Virtalis’ best selling interactive 3D visualisation system and probably the best selling VR system in the world. ActiveWalls are scalable, easily upgradable and our users consider them extremely cost effective to run and virtually future proof. They draw on active stereo technology and feature a custom screen, specialist computer, Virtalis custom software and powerful projectors. Movements within the ActiveWall environment are tracked using a tracking system.


“Using MANTRA and the stereoscopic 3D capabilities of the Virtalis StereoWorks ActiveWall system, we can demonstrate to businesses how VR technology can help achieve a smooth integration of new technologies into production environments.”
Professor Keith Ridgway, Research Director and HEFCE business fellow at the AMRC

Although MANTRA is primarily designed as a technology demonstration and transfer tool for businesses, an equally important use for it is inspiring young men and women to become the next generation of engineers. On board the 14 metre lorry, AMRC engineers use the eye-catching, interactive capabilities of the Virtalis ActiveWall to give students of all ages the experience of assembling, design reviewing and rehearsing the maintenance of a multi-million pound Rolls-Royce jet engine. The immersive qualities of VR bring students face to face with the real life challenges encountered by engineers every day.

MANTRA was funded with an award of £500,000 from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) 2007 Knowledge Transfer Challenge, which rewards and celebrates innovative approaches to supporting knowledge transfer in universities, making sure that research finds its way to end users in business and the public sector. AMRC saw VR as a key technology to showcase for the Knowledge Transfer Challenge.

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