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National challenges

Advanced manufacturing

We are creating and delivering innovation and measurement technology to enable organisations across all industrial sectors to innovate and compete

Applying the latest advances in measurement science, engineering and technology to help UK industry gain a competitive edge

Global and national trends in manufacturing like digital industrialisation, environmental concerns and energy challenges are generating new markets, products and disruptive materials and processes.

NPL is creating and delivering the measurement science and technology to enable businesses across all industrial sectors to innovate and compete. We help businesses, big and small, to become more competitive, sustainable and efficient by providing the confidence and trust in technology and data they need to make the best decisions possible.

We provide assurance to manufacturers that the technology they embed in their systems and products works and is tested against the highest possible standards of measurement. We provide assurance on the quality of new manufacturing processes and materials from raw materials to end product. Our work helps accelerate the innovation and adoption of technology to fast-track UK manufacturing and help industry gain a competitive edge on the global stage.

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Case study

Calibrating innovative XPS instruments to boost sales


Case study

Optimising the mechanical properties of nanocomposites


Case study

Providing the confidence to use composites in new applications


Measurement challenges

Within the advanced manufacturing sector, key themes, opportunities and challenges are emerging for the UK. Industrial Digitalisation offers manufacturers, large and small, the opportunity to become connected and digitally smarter both in the factory and across the supply chain. It provides significant opportunities for the UK manufacturing sector to improve its productivity and competitiveness on the global stage. At the same time, other priorities for UK manufacturing include responding to global environmental and energy challenges, through cleaner, more efficient or novel processes and products. Addressing the manufacturing productivity gap is also key to achieving economic improvements across the UK regions.

NPL is working with partners across industry and academia to accelerate the understanding, adoption and embedding of new skills and technologies within the range of manufacturing sectors and across their supply chains to address these challenges and opportunities. Good measurement strategies and skills can provide innovative solutions such as:  

  • In-situ measurement methods to accelerate process development and improve quality control
  • Non-destructive testing and evaluation methods for quality assurance
  • Robust measurement for characterisation of materials
  • Validated simulation and modelling tools to enable digitalisation of manufacturing

About us

Our team combines professionals with experience in industry, consultancy, non-profit organisations, science and innovation. The team sets NPL's advanced manufacturing strategy, assessing UK and international market drivers and policy developments.

We work closely with our scientists to inform NPL's approach to current and foreseeable industrial challenges.

We create partnerships with key stakeholders from the private, public and non-profit sectors to help drive innovation.

Contact us to find out more about our advanced manufacturing work.

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NPL provides opportunities to impact productivity, time to market, and innovation through assurance that material formulation and manufacturing technologies meet the standards and specifications that businesses demand.

Mark Summers - Head of Advanced Manufacturing

Future State Workshop of UK Advanced Machinery Manufacturers

Senior representatives from the UK Advanced Machinery sector met for a ‘futures workshop’ where they  considered actions necessary for the UK advanced machinery sector to grow and prosper. This short report captures the challenges, opportunities and recommendations that were raised. The three headline opportunities considered as being realistic within 10 years are:

  • Grow by 4-fold the UK Advanced Machinery sector to £2 billion pa creating 20,000 jobs
  • Stimulate UK advanced CNC control systems manufacturing to £1 billion pa creating 5,000 jobs
  • Stimulate UK industrial robots manufacturing to £1 billion pa creating 5,000 jobs

Download the report


  Key recommendations included:

  1.  Establish a UK Advanced Machinery Institute with a clear agenda to support growth of the UK advanced machinery sector.
  2.  Operate a targeted ‘business-to-business’ innovation programme for UK advanced machinery and automation (robot) manufacturers with blue chip companies. Set unambiguous emphasis on productivity growth from new digitally enabled production machinery.
  3. Encourage development and adoption of UK Advanced Machinery within existing UKRI funded programmes and centres.

NPL's key work streams

NPL's priority actions are based on the needs and long-term challenges of UK industry. We will deliver the science and engineering that the UK requires to accelerate maturity of technology and drive commercialisation in significant global markets.

Our leading programmes of work include:

  • Enabling the digital supply chain: We're delivering a programme that will help establish the UK's manufacturing supply chains in a world-leading position, enabling businesses to become highly flexible, efficient and responsive to customer needs
  • Additive Manufacturing: We're developing new standards for additive manufacturing to unlock the benefits of reduction of wastage, increased flexibility and efficiency for industry 
  • Hybrid Propulsion: We're helping to develop new methods for novel manufacturing of propulsion systems and components in both the automotive and aerospace sectors
  • Supporting the introduction of new materials and processes: We’re enabling industry to benefit rapidly from innovative technologies, such as composite materials 
  • Improving productivity of industry: We’re helping companies use their data to make better decisions 

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Find out more about the range of work we do in advanced manufacturing.

Work with us

Our research and measurement solutions support innovation and product development. We work with companies to deliver business advantage and commercial success.
Contact our Customer Services team on +44 20 8943 7070