McLaren Automotive join Wilson Benesch's long term collaborators at Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research CentreThis week Wilson Benesch and the Sheffield City region has welcomed the news that McLaren Automotive have agreed to locate their new purpose-built Composites Technology Centre at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) on the outskirts of the City. In partnership with the University of Sheffield’s AMRC, a new McLaren facility will be developed at the cost of nearly £50-million. The high-tech facility will be responsible for the development and manufacturing of advanced carbon fibre chassis for McLaren Automotive’s supercars from 2020 onwards.

McLaren currently produce all its carbon fibre chassis offshore, bringing the manufacturing back to the UK, the new centre hopes to deliver cost savings of around £10million is expected to bring a £100-million GVA (gross value added) benefit to the local economy by 2028. Opportunities for expansion thereafter could create an ambition of doubling that to £200 million. The in-sourcing of the manufacture of the carbon fibre chassis also increases the average percentage (by value) of a McLaren car sourced in the UK by around eight per cent from its average of around 50 per cent, depending on model.

Mike Flewitt, the chief executive of McLaren Automotive, said:
“In 1981, McLaren was the first company to recognise the exceptional properties of carbon fibre, and we have designed the highly-technical material to be at the heart of every McLaren road and racing car ever since.

The McLaren F1 was the first road car to be built with one when it was unveiled in 1992. But the company’s carbon fibre chassis are currently manufactured abroad by a supplier. Creating a facility where we can manufacture our own carbon fibre chassis structures is therefore a logical next step. We evaluated several options to achieve this objective, but [this] opportunity was compelling.

At the AMRC, we will have access to some of the world’s finest composites and materials research capabilities, and I look forward to building a world-class facility and talented team at the new McLaren composites technology centre.”

Wilson Benesch have been long term collaborators with the AMRC and the Sheffield University. The sculptural forms found in the Endeavour and Cardinal loudspeaker tops were made possible by laser scans of clay modelled components that were then rapid prototyped all at the AMRC before going into full production. Other Wilson Benesch technologies developed through collaborative research with the AMRC include the Endeavour’s ‘Carbon-Nanotech Enclosure’. In June 2014, Roy Gregory visited Wilson Benesch and toured the very same AMRC facility, our report of that visit and Roy’s subsequent review of Wilson Benesch can be read in full here Sheffield Steel: Wilson Benesch within the fabric of the regions High Tech Regeneration.

As the pioneers and leaders in advanced carbon fibre composite loudspeaker and turnable construction in the high end audio industry, news that Britain and perhaps the world’s leading luxury automotive manufacturer will be joining the fabric of Sheffield’s advanced manufacturing community is clearly a very positive thing. In February 2014 we wrote a short blog about the history of advanced carbon fibre composite design and manufacturing at Wilson Benesch. Neatly, we made reference to the groundbreaking McLaren MP4/1 in that report. You can read it in full here, Design & Manufacturing: A Story of High Risk and Innovation

We would like to take this moment to welcome McLaren Automotive to Sheffield and congratulate all our partners at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre on this excellent news.

Further reading:

McLaren Automotive: http://cars.mclaren.com/
McLaren Tweet: https://twitter.com/McLarenAuto/status/829691952648052736

The Guardian: McLaren to create 200 jobs in Sheffield with new £50m plant

Roy Gregory: Sheffield Steel; Wilson Benesch within the fabric of the regions High Tech Regeneration

Financial Times Report: Design & Manufacturing; A Story of High Risk & Innovation