McLaren carbon fiber manufacturing center nears completion

McLaren Automotive’s new, £ 50 carbon fibre production centre of South Yorkshire have moved a significant step closer to readiness today.

The sports car manufacturer has hosted a modest inauguration ceremony to celebrate his plate is raised above the main entrance of the McLaren Composites Technology Center (MCTC). McLaren Automotive chief executive officer Mike Flewitt was on hand to illuminate the sign for the first time.

The interior of the building is about 75,000 square meters in size, a new McLaren of Senna hypercar performed donuts to ‘baptize’ the newly laid floor of the factory.

See the first video of the new McLaren of Senna

The structure of the building, which is located in the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Catcliffe, between Sheffield and Rotherham – is completed and the interior has been prepared for the installation of the machines, which will enable McLaren to build one-piece carbon fibre ‘MonoCell’ basins, which constitute the foundation of his car.

Currently the activity is sub-contracted to a Salzburg-based company called Carbo Tech. The production of tanks will begin at the MCTC in 2019, even if the McLaren has already 40 employees in South Yorkshire, such as the ramps for the service of the full opening.

The employees are currently embedded within the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (amrc selected), which is a partner of the McLaren new plant.

Using the university structures and McLaren, the team is already in pre-production versions of the MonoCell to build experience of the processes of generation, which is said to embrace some new techniques and more automation. In addition, McLaren apprentices who will work in the new facility are in the process of training.

The British content of the McLaren cars will increase from 50% to 58% when the Sheffield-made tanks are used.

When the MCTC is fully operational, it is expected that about 200 people work there. The completed tanks will be sent from Sheffield to the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, Surrey, for assembly into finished cars.

Ken Smart, director of the project for the MCTC, said: “The factory is finished off at the moment and will be delivered to us in mid-April. Since then, through to September there will be the assembly with a little bit of infrastructure and then the production technology.

“There are two main reasons for which we are developing this facility. In the first place, taking control of the manufacturing process of the bath allows us to create more flexibility of design. So as we develop the vehicle, you will be able to design the tanks to suit the characteristics of such vehicles; the things that are important to the customer, such as vehicle dynamics, ergonomics, space in the cabin, the driving position, the visibility, input and output.

“Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to always learn from the process of development. Every time that we are able to solve a problem, learn something new.

“That gives us the ability to modify the project for its structural integrity and gives us the possibility to optimize the processes of production yet further. The assumption of this technology in-house, which gives us the ability to increase the pace of design and development of the carbon fiber tub.”

The new structure will also lead to a cost saving in the region of 10 million pounds, according to McLaren chiefs, and there is the possibility that the MCTC for the supply of components in carbon fibre for the other companies, because the McLaren production targets for the near future will leave the Sheffield plant with a production capacity in excess when it is fully operational.