Composite process

New and efficient processes for the formation of high-performance thermoplastic composites could be developed through a new £400,000 project.

The Advanced Composites Development project (ADCOMP) aims to create new and efficient processes for the formation of high-performance thermoplastic composites, such as those used in the aerospace industry for components such as tails, wings and fuselages.

The two-year project is supported by £200,000 investment from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands with a further £200,000 from industry and the National Composites Network (NCN). It is one of three advanced materials demonstrator projects funded by Advantage West Midlands to support structural composite materials.

Ivan Buckley, advanced materials strategy manager at Advantage West Midlands, said: ‘The UK already has an impressive global reputation for innovation and research in composite materials, as well as high skills and quality-based manufacturing.

‘The increase in demand for thermoplastic components represents a real opportunity for the region. Global growth in the use of thermoplastic composites in aerospace and other transport sectors is increasing by five per cent each year so there is a real need to develop affordable and rapid-forming methods to maximise the market potential.

‘The ADCOMP project will help develop the West Midlands as an international competitor in advanced materials by both developing the supply chain and raising awareness of potential business growth – particularly in those companies currently engaged in the manufacture of plastic components or composite moulds.

‘Companies will also be able to obtain support and advice, which will help grow the cluster, further develop existing capabilities, and focus future infrastructure investment on capability gaps defined by industry.

‘Innovation is vital to driving forward the West Midlands economy. This is an exciting project and an important part of a wider programme of activity that will help to develop the region’s reputation as a centre of excellence in advanced materials and manufacturing.’

ADCOMP will target the aerospace and transport sectors as a priority while also focusing on the construction, rail and medical industries in the region. Businesses involved in the project include JCB and Airbus.