Vince Cable opens £25m Bristol National Composites Centre

November 28, 2011 by
Filed under: News 

Business Secretary Vince Cable has officially opened the £25m National Composites Centre site in Bristol to speed up innovative new products going from the laboratory to the shop-floor.

The Centre is a new 8500m2 state-of-the-art building offering laboratory space for SMEs to develop new products on the same site as the Bristol and Bath Science Park. It is also one of seven research and technology facilities which form the £140m High Value Manufacturing technology and innovation centre.

The Bristol city-region is already at the forefront of composites development, both as an international research hub and as a world-leading manufacturing base. The National Composites Centre will capitalise and build on this. “Here in the UK we are very good at invention, but we need to do more to innovate and turn our ideas into products and jobs,” said Cable. “I don’t want the UK to miss out on any opportunities to create economic growth through manufacturing. This centre will work with our world class universities and international businesses based in the South West and across the UK, to develop and commercialise new technologies. Its work will strengthen our manufacturing sector, exploiting the next generation of advanced composites materials and helping maintain our global lead in this technology area.”

Cable also visited EADS and Airbus at Filton, who have received conditional offers of funding from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. This £1.4 billion fund is supporting projects that will create jobs in areas dependent on the public sector. “The South West is becoming a real hub for composites and aerospace manufacturing, and is exactly the sort of place where targeted Government support through schemes like the Regional Growth fund, can have a real benefit,” he said. “By helping companies large and small unlock their potential for growth, we can make sure that we rebalance the economy and emerge with a stronger and more diverse industrial base.”

EADS plan to use the Government support to fund the development and industrialisation of additive layer manufacturing which uses laser or plasma energy beams applied to powdered material to build a 3D product up in layers. Airbus have received conditional approval for their bid to support the expansion of aircraft wing design, manufacture, assembly and equipping capabilities. Their application supports a wider investment by Airbus in the project.

Core activities at the National Composites Centre (NCC) include:

    • Providing manufacturing facilities at an industrial scale and rapid manufacturing processes capable of building prototypes to validate design concepts.
    • Being the hub of the UK’s effort to develop and implement rapid composites manufacturing technologies and systems. It will also co-ordinate the regional network of composites centres.
    • Providing direction and focus for fundamental research and collaborative links with UK universities.
    • Helping to develop and co-ordinate training to support the skills base necessary for applying advanced and specialist composites technologies. A skills Academy is being established at the NCC.
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