The University of Bristol is to set up a new Industrial Doctorate Centre to provide the composites manufacturing industry with elite research engineers of the future.
The £3.8m IDC will be based at the National Composites Centre, a research centre led by the University of Bristol and industry to provide the composites manufacturing industry with engineers equipped with the necessary advanced technical and leadership skills required for effective adoption of new knowledge and technologies in composites manufacture.
The IDC is integral to the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites EPSRC Centre and will support over 30 EngD programmes, each over four years, where selected research engineers will undertake specialist training and conduct an industrially focused research project, spending 75 per cent of their time at a company. The IDC will have access to a complete range of equipment and techniques required for composites manufacturing research. It is open to all UK industry and academia and will eventually offer wide access to its bespoke taught modules.
Ivana Partridge, Director of the IDC, explained that the project demonstrates an urgent and growing need in the UK polymer composites manufacturing sector for greater numbers of technically qualified individuals. She said: “The new IDC fills an existing gap in the provision of industrially focused higher level education in the UK.”The research engineers are expected to encourage joint industry and academia collaboration to a much greater extent than is usual in classical PhD training.”
Professor Michael Wisnom, Director of the University’s Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science ACCIS, said “The new IDC based at the NCC and in industry will focus on applied research at technology readiness level 3-5, and will be highly complementary to the Bristol ACCIS Doctoral Training Centre, where PhD students work on more fundamental research topics at TRL 1-3.”
The IDC is now looking for industrial projects and supervisors to run innovative composites manufacturing projects, providing a commitment of cash support for research engineer training and stipend top-up. Eligible research engineers with an engineering/science background and an interest in industrially focused composites manufacturing research should apply through firstname.lastname@example.org, for a position with a tax-free stipend of £20k pa.
R&D collaboration for aircraft and cars
Aircraft maker EADS and GKN Aerospace are launching a £2m research centre to examine industrialising the next generation of manufacturing process known as Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM), which is essentially ‘printing’ objects in 3D.
The collaboration will be supported by a £1.96m investment provided through a Government Regional Growth Fund grant for the use of ALM in aerospace but also for making parts and accessories for cars.
The project will be based in a new shared facility at Filton in Bristol and is expected to create up to 30 new sustainable engineering jobs and develop a new supply chain of companies in the region.
“Promoting innovation is vital if we are to drive growth in our local communities,” said Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk. “We have received a large number of ambitious and highly competitive bids to the first round of the Regional Growth Fund, which will help a number of businesses across the country, and I am delighted to announce funding for this collaboration between EADS and GKN Aerospace. Aerospace is one of Britain’s international successes and one that we should be proud of. We are number one in Europe and number two in the world with a 17 per cent global market share. I look forward to seeing the collaboration build further on this success, creating more jobs here in Bristol and providing an invaluable boost to the local economy.”
The ALM process grows solid 3D shapes from powdered raw material. The shape is created as a digital model which is split into horizontal slices. A laser or electron beam then traces the shape slice by slice onto a bed of powdered material, heating the material, melting it and bonding it to the layer below. It then quickly cools to form a solid. The process is repeated slice by slice by sweeping a fresh layer of powder over the top each time.
This technology has the potential to advance the design and manufacture of parts in ways that cannot be achieved today, delivering lighter, purpose made parts which use less material, generate less waste and produce lower emissions. Early results indicate that manufacturing waste could be reduced by up to 90% – particularly significant in industries where high-cost materials are used, such as the aerospace sector.
“This collaboration takes a significant step towards bringing this unique technology into industrial reality. As a more efficient, sustainable process, ALM has the potential to revolutionise industrial manufacturing and secure the UK’s position at the forefront of high tech innovation,” said Ian Risk, Head of EADS Innovation Works UK.
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A collaboration between Bristol University and Imperial College London has been awarded a £6m grant to develop a new generation of high performance, fibre reinforced polymer composites.
The team from Bristol’s Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science and The Composites Centre at Imperial College London have been awarded the six-year programme grant by EPSRC. The aim of the project is to create a new generation of high performance, ductile fibre reinforced polymer composites capable of sustaining large deformations without breaking.
The team is led by Professor Michael Wisnom at the University of Bristol and Professor Alexander Bismarck at Imperial College London, and supported by partners including BAE Systems, dstl, Halliburton, Hexcel, Mouchel, Rolls-Royce andVestas.
Advanced composites, based on carbon, glass and aramid fibres, are a vital low weight material technology that also offer operational savings and extended service lifetimes. These materials are being implemented in rapidly increasing volumes, with the UK supply of advanced composite systems currently around £1.6 billion per year and growing rapidly.
Professor Wisnom, Director of ACCIS, said: “Conventional polymer matrix composites offer high strength and stiffness, low weight, and low susceptibility to fatigue and corrosion, and we are witnessing a rapid expansion of their use in aerospace and other applications, such as wind turbine blades, sporting goods and civil engineering.
“Despite this progress, a fundamental limitation of current composites is their inherent brittleness. Failure can be sudden and catastrophic, with little warning or residual load carrying capacity.”
Professor Bismarck added: “High performance ductile composites will enable robust panels, which dent without significant loss in performance, and super-light, complex structures which indicate an overload by significant deformation but continue to support load without catastrophic failure.
“Such materials will provide greater reliability and safety, together with reduced design and maintenance requirements, and longer service life”.
Ensuring materials are ductile will overcome reticence for their use in safety critical or damage vulnerable applications, thereby significantly increasing their attractiveness for mass-market applications. Also, the widespread use of high performance ductile composites could achieve a very significant reduction of up to 15 per cent in the overall greenhouse gas contribution of transport.
To achieve such an ambitious outcome will require a concerted effort by the team to develop new constituents and exploit novel architectures, in order to obtain fracture toughness and ductility comparable to that of metals, and with considerably superior strength, stiffness and density. This programme grant will scope, prioritise, develop, and combine these approaches, to achieve High Performance Ductile Composite Technology (HiPerDuCT).
The research programme team are the University of Bristol: Professor Michael Wisnom, Professor Ian Bond, Professor Kevin Potter and Professor Paul Weaver and Imperial College London: Professor Alexander Bismarck, Professor Milo Shaffer, Dr Paul Robinson and Dr Joachim Steinke.
- Weight reduction in cars (matchem.wordpress.com)
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