The widely watched Markit/CIPS manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 51.9 in July, ahead of the previous month's reading of 51.4, and above the crucial 50 mark which indicates growth.
But it remained well below the average of 54.3 recorded since April 2013, when the UK economy was beginning to bounce back from the global financial crisis.
Read more: UK firms and consumers upbeat on the economy
The survey also showed Britain's economy continues to grow lopsidedly - remaining overly reliant on consumer spending to drive growth, rather than investments and exports.
"Domestic demand and consumer goods continued to drive growth as other sub-sectors carried on stagnating or falling behind," David Noble, group chief executive officer at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said.
"New orders from export markets stayed lifeless as the impact of the sterling exchange rate against the euro dampened any possible hot spots of new orders from the Eurozone."