An overview of our history since the centre began its activities in 1963 up to the present.
The Origins of AIMEN
In 1963, a group of Vigo industrialists felt the need to establish an institution to carry out metallurgical research. Manuel Sanjurjo and Armando Priegue were two of these visionaries.
The initial project was conceived of as a branch - in Galicia, and specifically in Vigo - of CENIM, the Centre for Metallurgical Research which was based in Madrid. The initiators of the project began by contacting some of the most significant figures in the world of research.
The setting up of AIMEN
The research initiative - founded by that group of Galician industrialists, led by Manuel Sanjurjo and Armando Priegue, and later joined by a select group of Galician entrepreneurs - underwent radical change. They decided to set up an independent association with its own identity, which they called the "Asociación de Investigación Metalúrgica del Noroeste” (the Northeastern Association for Metallurgical Research).
Finally, on 8 August 1967, the General Meeting incorporating the "Asociación de Investigación Metalúrgica del Noroeste" was held in the Vigo Chamber of Commerce, presided over by Enrique Lorenzo Docampo. AIMEN initially operated, on a provisional basis, from the Vigo School of Technical Experts.
Armando M. Priegue Guerra
A Professor of Metallurgy who was born in Vigo, Armando Priegue was a founding member of AIMEN and served as its first director from 1967 to 1995.
With Manuel Sanjurjo - his friend and ally with whom he shared a passion for smelting and casting - he undertook important research in the field of metallurgy. One of the most notable results was the incorporation of "cylindrical jackets" into the smelting process in 1967, when this was cutting-edge technology.
For the start, AIMEN was remarkable for the progress of its research in the field of metallurgy, its advanced technological equipment, its specialised services for industry and the national and international renown it acquired. Much of this success can be attributed to the work of Armando Priegue, its founder and one of AIMEN's principal ambassadors worldwide.
AIMEN moved to its new headquarters in O Porriño
At the start of the 90's, AIMEN brought in major changes to its strategy. The purchase of new equipment in 1991, through the Stride Programme, meant that it needed its own larger premises, suitable for housing the new research infrastructure.
The association's leaders sought the help of local authorities in finding a site for the new facilities. The O Porriño town council, when Mr. José Manuel Barros was its Mayor, granted it a 6,651 m2 building plot. The Galician Autonomous Government contributed €1.5m to the works. In November 1993, work began on constructing the new building, which took 2 years to complete.
AIMEN's new headquarters were opened on 20 October 1995, by Manuel Fraga, the President of the Galician Autonomous Government.
The move to the Armando Priegue Building -named after the man who was the driving force behind it - on the Torneiros Industrial Estate in Porriño, was to mark a turning point.
Opening of the Pilot Welding Plant
In 2003, AIMEN's strategy focussed on definitively strengthening the lines of research into laser and joining technologies. This process culminated in the creation of Pilot Welding Plant, which was opened on 11 June 2004.
Starting up a plant for experimental research into joining technologies led to the development and experimentation on new processes using the advanced technologies, and making prototypes and demonstration models for industry. It also led to research into new joining processes based on arc welding, brazing and soldering, electrical resistance, friction, and mechanical, adhesive and laser joints.
This initiative, which required an investment of €2m, was supported by the Galician Autonomous Government, the Spanish Government and the European Commission.
The origin of Laser Technology in AIMEN
The first project involving the implementation of laser at an industrial level was undertaken for the PSA Peugeot Citroën plant, in 2003. This Vigo plant became the first one in the PSA Group to implement laser welder of bodywork.
In 2005, having confirmed its industrial neighbours' interest in the field, AIMEN began an ambitious research project into applying laser technology to diverse industrial processes. It set up a new department, the Laser Applications Centre, in one of its larger industrial buildings, providing this department with cutting-edge technology, and training its staff. This was supported by the Galician Autonomous Government through agreements signed in 2005 and 2006.
In 2006, AIMEN participated in OLIWAM*, its first European research project. This involved developing a system for inspecting laser-welded joints using Non-Destructive Testing, which had been approved in the EU's Sixth Framework Programme.
AIMEN's 40th anniversary
In 2007, AIMEN took stock of the progress made by the Centre and the many steps still to be taken in this fascinating research adventure.
On 18 October, an official event was held in Vigo to celebrate AIMEN's 40th anniversary. The event was presided over by Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Asturias, Felipe of Bourbon and Greece, and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano.
Construction of the Laser Applications Centre
Given AIMEN'S growing capabilities in the field of laser technology over the last five years, at the end of 2008 the Centre decided to construct a new building that would house this strategic line of research.
In 2010, work started on the new Laser Applications Centre on 4,000m2 plot the Association owns in Cataboi (Porriño) Business Park. Work on the building was completed at the end of 2012.The project was made possible by co-financing provided by the Ministry of Economy and Competition, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Galician Autonomous Government.
This initiative, to be opened in June 2014, is a milestone in AIMEN's history, which will allow it to consolidate its position a national and international leader in the field of laser technology.
Excellence in laser micro-applications
Although the initial uses of lasers in AIMEN focussed on welding processes for the automotive industry, in recent years the applications of laser materials processing have been diversified to include other processes such as retruing, cutting and forming, as well as other materials and sectors..
At the end of 2007, a new line of research was introduced - laser micro processing. This is an incipient technology which is used for many processes, including high-precision cutting, micro machining, micro manufacturing and texturizing or surface treatment, all of which have many applications in various sectors.
One of AIMEN's objectives is to become an international leader in the industrial application of laser micro processing. In this aim, it is supported by the European Union through the FAIERA* (2013-2016) project, which is financed by the Seventh Framework Programme.
50th years associated with innovation
In 2017, AIMEN celebrates 50 years of history at the service of innovation, industry and society in general. So far, the Centre has undergone a deep structural, technological and market transformation that has allowed it to become a Innovative and Technological Centre, witch is a European benchmark in R&D&I and in the provision of services to the industry in the field of materials and advanced manufacturing processes..
On the 17th of July 2017, it was organized the commemorative event of the 50th anniversary, which was chaired by His Majesty King Felipe VI.