The funding given to the Universities of Nottingham and Bristol to anchor cutting-edge composites manufacturing research in the UK is for the Future Composites Manufacturing Hub (FCM Hub). The aim is to develop the next generation of composites technologies and train the people required to deliver those innovations. The grant which comes to support the FCM Hub has the target of delivering research outputs to enable “Moore’s law for composites” i.e. a doubling in production capability every two years for high performance polymer composites.
The FCM Hub will also train the next generation of composites manufacturing engineers. This is critical as the UK composites manufacturing industry has identified a major shortfall in skilled engineers who are able to deliver on the technical challenges such as rate increases, design integration and process development.
Peter Chivers (NCC CEO), commented “The funding is great news for the National Composites Centre, as we will be able to use excellent fundamental research from the FCM Hub and working with them and our industrial partners, transition it into commercial applications to maximise the value to the country. The research outputs developed in the FCM Hub, together with the additional NCC ‘Technology Accelerator Fund’ which will be a £1.3m investment over 7 years, and a further £1.4m for Engineering Doctorate support, will ensure further extension of the pipeline for technology and workforce ready people.”
The FCM Hub will fund training to support at least 121 PhD/EngD students and 29 postdoctoral researchers over the 7-year period. The proposed industry secondment and international exchange programmes for all researchers within the Hub will ensure technologies and highly trained personnel are effectively integrated within academia, Catapults and industry.
Partnerships with four of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres and 20 internationally leading Universities, will position the FCM Hub in the strongest possible international network for composites manufacturing research.
Professor Kevin Potter, University of Bristol lead academic says, “The EPSRC Future Composites Manufacturing Hub allows us to build on the extremely successful Centre for Innovative Manufacture in Composites’ 5 year programme, which is just coming to an end. That programme proved the enormous value of collaboration between universities, industry and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult. Building on that programme and developing innovative ways of working together with long term funding will deliver great benefits to the UK economy.”
The FCM Hub is one of six new £10 million research hubs that will explore and improve new manufacturing techniques across fields such as targeted biological medicines, 3D printing and composites.