National Composites Centre opens in England

The £25 million National Composites Centre in Bristol, U.K., will help develop advanced composites manufacturing processes for aerospace, wind and automotive applications.

Dr. Vince Cable MP, U.K. Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, on Nov. 24 helped formally open the National Composites Centre (NCC) in Bristol, U.K.

Cable was joined by more than 200 guests to see first-hand the capabilities of the center. He saw state-of-the-art machinery, including a £2.5 million automatic fibre placement (AFP) system. The event was accompanied by an exhibition of the NCC’s members showing what composite technology can do across a range of industries. An innovative electric car built with a composite body, tidal turbine blades and new aircraft wing components were among a range of items that showcased the potential applications of the latest composite technology

Cable said: “Here in the U.K. we are very good at invention, but we need to do more to innovate and turn our ideas into products and jobs. I don’t want the U.K. to miss out on any opportunities to create economic growth through manufacturing. This center will work with our world class universities and international businesses based in the South West and across the U.K., to develop and commercialize new technologies. Its work will strengthen our manufacturing sector, exploiting the next generation of advanced composite materials and helping maintain our global lead in this technology area. I look forward to seeing what they produce.”

The NCC is a £25 million investment supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (£12 million); the South West Regional Development Agency (£4 million); and £9m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The NCC is also part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Technology and Innovation Centre initiative, an elite network of world-leading technology and innovation centres to transform the U.K.’s capability for innovation, managed by the Technology Strategy Board. In addition the centre has powerful support from industry. Tier 1 members — AgustaWestland, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, GKN, Umeco and Vestas — have committed almost £5.5 million of work over three years. This year alone sees £5 million of work from industry.

Umeco presented a number of exhibits to showcase the company’s expertise in the composites industry and its involvement in sectors such as automotive, aerospace and renewable energy. These included a Delta Motorsport E-4 Coupé electric car, a Ginetta F400 sportscar, the root section of a tidal turbine blade and a wing section.

The NCC is located on Bristol & Bath Science Park, is owned and operated by the University of Bristol and draws on established links to world class composites research at Bristol and other UK Universities. The NCC is part of the first Technology and Innovation Centre – for High Value Manufacturing.