Originally published 29 February 1996
The science of chaos theory is now being used to produce the perfect spring. Leading chaos theoretician and University of Warwick Mathematics Professor Ian Stewart has just completed a unique industrial project with SRAMA, (the UK Spring Research and Manufacturers Association), to produce a system known as "FRACMAT" which employs chaos theory based methods of mathematical analysis to identify the best wire materials for spring manufacture. SRAMA has just sold the first of the new FRACMAT machines to a leading UK spring manufacturer.
One of the big problems with springs is that, even with the most stringent quality control measures currently available, the gaps between coils frequently vary in size. Professor Stewart's FRACMAT process finds the underlying patterns in the variability of the thickness of each length of wire used to produce a spring, thus allowing the spring manufacturers to devise a model which they can use to influence the "coil consistency" of each spring and bring a previously unobtainable level of quality control into the production process.
Notes for Editors:
The work was jointly funded by SRAMA, the four industrial partners, and the Department of Trade and Industry (under the DTI's Carrier Technology Research Programme).
The four spring wire manufacturers involved in the project are: Bridon Ropes; Critchley, Sharp and Tetlow; Reddiwire; and Temco.
Photographic and video material on the FRACMAT is available from Dawn Vinall (see below)
For further information please contact:
Professor Ian Stewart
Department of Mathematics, University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
Tel: 024 76 523740
Dawn Vinall, SRAMA
Henry St, Sheffield, S3 7EQ
Tel: 0114 2760771
Public Affairs Office