Advanced Metal Forming Research

Our combined lab facilities of traditional and special purpose test equipment are unique within the UK and exceptional in the rest of the world.

We work collaboratively with leading researchers in the field of metallic formability and aerospace manufacturers in Europe.


The AMFoR group provides a unique blend of capabilities including mathematical theories of plasticity, mechanical metallurgy, materials characterisation and industrial forming process optimisation. Through combined efforts in these key areas we have a rare, scientifically founded but pragmatic approach to research in the field of metal forming.

This approach was developed in response to the observed complex interactions of these areas while solving industrial forming problems.

Materials Research at the Ulster University has jumped from 17th to 11th in the UK national league table for research excellence and in its research submission the Assessment Panel found strong evidence of world class research, supported by internationally leading research. In fact 95% of the staff are judged to be of international standing.

The Assessment Panel for this highly competitive and economically important discipline were looking at scientific discovery and engineering innovation at some of the strongest academic institutions in the UK including Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield and Imperial.

The outcome for Ulster is a reward for the strategic focus in nanotechnology and advanced materials research and provides a strong foundation for future growth of this young and dynamic Institute.

Since the RAE 2008 submission the Institute has announced a further £10M of funding including a £1.7m Research Council (EPSRC) grant in the area of Health Technology (MATCH); two multi-million pound cross-border collaborative projects funded by DEL, in Biosensors and Tissue Engineering and a major industrial START (£1M) programme with AVX Ltd in the field of Nanoparticle research. Further success stories include two new US-Ireland R&D (NSF-SFI-DEL) awards.


  • 5500R 100kN Instron
  • 600kN Dartec
  • 1342 250kN Instron
  • 1110 5kN Instron
  • Rockwell Hardness Tester
  • 40 Tonne Press Brake
  • Bespoke Universal Formability Test Rig
  • Forming Limit Test Rig
  • CAMSYS GPA100 system
  • Ultrasonic thickness gauge
  • FaroArm 3D Portable coordinate measuring machine (4m Arm)
  • Laser profilometer
  • Bend-stretch test


  • Determination of in plane anisotropy using tensile testing at 15 degree intervals. Both yield strength and r-values are measured for each angle
  • Biaxial yield testing using equi-biaxial hydraulic bulge testing and an extensometer spherometer
  • Plane strain compression and tension testing of sheet materials
  • In-plane shear testing of sheet materials
  • Forming limit diagram testing
  • Limiting Dome height tests
  • Swift Cupping test
  • Springback measurement during stretch forming

Computer Hardware

  • x workstations
  • 26 Node Linux Cluster

Computer Software

  • CATIA V5
  • PAMSTAMP 2G V2005


The Engineering Reserach Institute's  fundamental materials research has been directed towards, and translated into, a range of advanced commercialised products through technology licensing and, more recently, via a number of spin-out ventures.

This has lead to over thirty patents filed and 6 new spin-out companies (over 100 employees). We have developed and licensed numerous devices such as PRIME ECG, Vital Signs Wireless Patch, 12-lead holter-telemonitoring, AED defibrillators, telemonitoring platforms, the world’s biggest selling ECG electrode and a range of licensed algorithms to companies such as Samsung, Tyco and Meridian Medical.

Close tri-lateral partnerships with industry (local and international) and clinicians will establish further market and clinical roadmaps for each product family along with field testing and rapid feedback.

We are now well experienced at Ulster in taking ideas to proof of concept (funded by Office of Innovation seed funding; University Challenge Fund or InvestNI/Halo) to early stage seed funding (venture capital, InvestNI or Wellcome Trust funding) and then to well-funded company formation with CEO & International Marketing structures. Good examples of advanced materials and sensors-related companies that are doing well under these models include; Heartsine; Heartscape, Intelesens and SiSAF (spin-in). More recently Lenis Aer and Axis Composites have been formed in the area sof metal forming and composites respectively.

As well as numerous industrial links already outlined at the Group level, seven INI Proof of Concept grants were awarded in the areas of biomaterials; photocatalytic materials; sensors, composites, barrier packaging and plasma based materials. NIBEC has received a range of innovation awards (Investment Belfast 25K Business Plan Competition) with three first-prizes and many top ten awards.

Over 28 ERI-related Cross-Border (NI-IRL) Industry-University Fusion Programmes are on-going and a range of KTP’s and Invest NI START programmes have been or were developed with companies such as TFX-Medical, Perfecseal, Seagate, and Courtaulds.


The AMFoR Group has worked closely with leading aerospace manufacturers for the past ten years. During this time we have developed an appreciation for the challenges facing modern aerospace manufacturers.

We have a proven track record of solving industrial forming problems through:

  • Sponsored research PhD studentships
  • Joint research council work
  • Consultancy activities

Benefits of Working with the AMFoR Group: The pragmatic application of mechanical metallurgy, advanced plasticity theory and finite element analysis to industrial forming processes provides a seamless integration of research and technology transfer.

While working at the most advanced levels of plasticity theory we never lose sight of the applied nature of the research.

This underlying ethos ensures the rapid deployment of research findings by industrial partners.

Current Partners


If you would like to discuss any work related to Amfor contact Robert McMurray.