Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and Cllr Sue Jeffrey, the leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council, have visited the Materials Processing Institute to meet representatives involved in global steel and industrial group Liberty’s £10m project to develop a new generation of powdered metals.
The Combined Authority will invest £4.6m to support Liberty to create an advanced range of speciality alloy metal powders.
This will allow the manufacture of stronger, lighter metals which are easier to turn into high-precision products, with zero waste.
In particular they can be used in 3D printing where three-dimensional objects, such as car parts, are created under computer control by laying down thin layers of material in succession.
Mayor Houchen and Cllr Jeffrey met Liberty’s technical director, Dr Simon Pike, and the Institute’s commercial director, Anders Jersby, to learn more about the project.
The £9.83m initiative will be based at the Materials Processing Institute, providing Liberty with access to its specialist scientific knowledge and expertise.
The Institute is a leading research and innovation centre based at South Bank, which provides research services in advanced materials, low carbon energy and the circular economy.
The funding will allow Liberty to purchase a vacuum atomiser, a vital element in the production of powder metals. Only the third of its kind in the UK, it will be set up on an open access basis to enable further ground-breaking research.
Using Tees Valley as a base, Liberty wants to capitalise on the fast-growing international market in speciality alloy metal powders market. An initial 20 jobs will be created thanks to the project, with more to follow.
Almost £4m of additional funding for the project is coming from Liberty and the CASCADE project, a Research and Development initiative funded by the UK Government and led by Liberty.
Mayor Houchen said: “This project is a huge coup for the Tees Valley.
“We’re helping a business with high growth potential and boosting our research credentials while creating good quality jobs for local people.
“Using the money devolved to our area from Government, we’re investing today in the jobs of tomorrow. It is a brilliant opportunity to build on our already strong research and development experience to create a new advanced manufacturing cluster that will be an asset to UK plc.”
Cllr Jeffrey, who is also the Combined Authority’s Cabinet Member for investment and business growth, said: “Meeting the experts today has just underlined the huge potential of this innovative technology.
“It is yet another example of pioneering research and development taking place in Redcar and helping to put it, and the wider region, on the map.”
Dr Simon Pike added: “This project will be a very significant step forward for the international metals industry.
“We are very proud to work with valued partners to bring this game-changing innovation to the North East and to build on the excellent foundations laid by the Cascade project.
“We’re confident it will unlock many other exciting opportunities for advanced industries in the region over the coming years.”