The North West Development Agency (NWDA) has confirmed funding for the North West Composites Centre based
at the University of Manchester but with links to Liverpool, Bolton and Lancaster Universities. It aims
to become a regional centre of excellence in composite materials.
Composites are now established as the lightweight material of choice for many high-technology structural
applications. Driven largely by their introduction into the next generation of commercial aircraft, such as
the new Airbus A400M and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a step jump is expected across the transportation
and beyond. It is critical that the North West is in
the vanguard of this movement, as a missed opportunity
could jeopardise tens of thousands of jobs in the region. To do this, a strong regional expertise base is essential
if companies are to have the confidence to take up the challenge.
The two prerequisites for a successful Centre are already in place; a strong research activity in composite
materials in the NW universities with 6* RAE- rated departments, alongside a strong industrial capability.
World-class composite processing demands a strong linkage between research and industrial exploitation
as well as a multi-disciplinary approach. Together, the North West universities have a wide range of expertise
dispersed across the region ranging from the analysis and design of structures, to developing the textile assemblies
required for reinforcement; from the fabrication of such textile structures, to the manufacture of the
composite and the evaluation of the structure-processing-performance relationships.
At the same time, there are fibre producers, potential suppliers of textile structures, composite manufacturers,
assembly manufacturers and end users in the North West. In the past, the effort has been fragmented with no
formal structure connecting them together.
The Northwest Composite Centre will provide the focus of the region, opening up new partnering
opportunities and fostering innovation. Exciting scientific programmes will draw in talented individuals from
across the world to reinforce and strenghten the North West science and industry base. This project will link in to
forthcoming National Composite Networks and initiatives delivering benefits into many key areas. In particular,
has the support of the NWAA (North West Aerospace Alliance) Aerospace
Innovation Centre (AIC) team to become an integral part of the regional
aerospace development strategy.
Northwest Composites Centre, Sackville Street