The steel heart will sit inside the Steel Man, which honours the area’s steel and coal heritage. It will stand at 32m high, overlooking the M1 and Meadowhall. ‘The Heart of Steel’ is a fundraising scheme, as people who donate will have their name engraved onto the 2.5m heart that weighs just over one ton. 10% of donations will also go to The British Heart Foundation.
The AMRC has helped people see exactly where their names are engraved through their new interactive, touch-screen app, created using the latest games engine technology. It was developed by Michael Lewis, Digitally Assisted Assembly Technical Lead for the Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG), and Charlie Conte, a computer games and programming skills student from Coventry University on a work placement with IMG.
The app also features a smart function that allows users to view a film about the project and watch some of the stories the donators have told about the loved ones they have lost and donated for in memoriam. It also brings the memories to life, as it shows the Heart of Steel dominating a factory floor with blazing welding sparks firing from behind workshop screens.
Michael said: “The application we have built is tablet-based and will sit on a pedestal in front of the heart, so a person can come along, type in a name and the app will animate through the heart and zoom in to where that name is engraved on a particular panel so the person knows where it is on the actual heart.
“The way we did this was by getting a 3D CAD model of the heart and importing it into a games engine called Unity and programmed the functionality to tie it to the names and then gave it the ability to animate when you type a name and the intelligence to be able to do that. We have essentially made a mini game.
“A lot of applications we build are done using similar technology – it’s our bread and butter – and Steve approached us to do it because he understands we are doing these kinds of experiences already.
“As a digital team it’s nice to be involved in something like this. It’s a real opportunity to be creative. It’s been a different experience for us because a lot of the stuff we build is for proof of concept projects to prove something works but not necessarily to make it beautiful.
“We’ve worked on the Heart of Steel project to the final completed article and knowing it will be seen by potentially hundreds of thousands of people – we knew it needed to be polished.
“It’s been a really nice challenge to get something production ready.”
The heart is made from 135 individual panels that will be filled with donators names. It is made from a super alloy called Inconel, a material normally seen in high performance engine parts used in aerospace and Formula One.
Steve Mehdi, the sculptor behind both the Steel Man and the Heart of Steel, is impressed with the app and praised the AMRC for its support in developing the visitor experience.
He said: “The University of Sheffield’s AMRC is a founder member of the Steel Man project and continues to offer high level expertise and practical help, machining a three-metre model of the Steel Man, and a smaller 3D printed version.
“When we needed an app designing as part of the new fundraising campaign the team at the AMRC’s Factory 2050 stepped in and came up with a brilliant version.
“The Steel Man honours the past, but its vision is firmly set on the future. Advances in the new technologies will play an important part in the region's future success, and the skills and innovations developed at the AMRC will be central to the construction phase of The Steel Man.”
The Heart of Steel and the laser engraving of names has been made possible by the support of three Sheffield companies: Maher donated the material; Doncasters Bramah made the sculpture; and Pryor Marking Technology is engraving the names.
Steve said the unveiling of the heart - alongside the model version of the Steel Man sculpture machined at the AMRC Composite Centre - marks another milestone in the Steel Man journey.
He added: “The Steel Man was originally a small sculpture, a nod to my past and the people I worked with in the steel industry in Sheffield. Once it was made, I saw its potential as something bigger and fortunately, others saw it too.
“It has been hard. At the beginning, and over the years, we have faced many setbacks and challenges. So many unforeseen events have threatened to derail the project, but we have pulled together a team of experts who, luckily, share our vision and passion to create an icon that will have a major benefit to the region for future generations.”