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New Research Facility at University Of Auckland

22 April 2004

A new research facility at The University of Auckland's Faculty of Engineering will help New Zealand industries keep abreast with cutting edge technologies.

The Centre for Advanced Composite Materials research facility was officially opened by the Minister for Research, Science and Technology, the Hon. Pete Hodgson.

The Centre has been established as a joint venture between The University of Auckland and Forest Research (FRNZ). It is also supported by a consortium of industries and the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

The composites research group was also named as a recipient of a Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FRST) grant for the designing, developing and manufacturing of advanced composite structures. The group will receive more than $10.2 million over a period of six years from this FRST grant, in addition to the support received from other New Zealand and overseas sources.

Faculty of Engineering Dean Professor Peter Brothers says he is delighted with the addition of the research facility to the Faculty's existing research and teaching programme.

""The new facility will take research in the area of composite products and manufacturing processes to a new level and it offers a wide range of research and learning opportunities to our academics and students.

""In addition, we welcome the opportunity to work with Forest Research on this initiative, as well as other members of New Zealand industry who have a stake in the ongoing development of these research programmes,"" says Professor Brothers.

Research in advanced composite materials at the University first started in 1987, while the joint venture was formally established in 2002. It aims to pioneer innovative technologies in advanced composite products and manufacturing processes, to enhance the wealth of its members and to provide new business opportunities that will benefit New Zealand's economy. Centre Director and Head of the Mechanical Engineering Department, Professor Debes Bhattacharyya, says increased interest in the research carried out by the Faculty meant that bigger custom-made premises were required.

""Since we first started research in this area, we have gone from strength to strength in terms of our research projects and opportunities and we have had growing support for our work from industry collaborators and overseas institutions.

""Interest is coming from a wide range of industries, varying from marine and forest product manufacturers, polymer and consumer products manufacturers, and aircraft maintenance and parts manufacturers,"" says Professor Bhattacharyya.

Forest Research Chief Executive Bryce Heard says the organisation is pleased to be so closely involved with an area of research that has the potential to drive real growth in the New Zealand economy.

""The area of composites research opens up a whole new area of opportunities for New Zealand businesses and industry,"" says Mr Heard.

""""New Zealand organisations are already world-leaders in this area of development and this new centre of research at the University will help all of us stay ahead of the competition. It's an exciting development for everyone involved.""

""Research areas include innovative manufacturing processes like modified rotational moulding, development of novel biopolymers and polymer blends, modifications of synthetic and natural fibres like wood fibres, and the applications of nano- and micro-fibrillar polymers in composites manufacturing.

""The Centre for Advanced Composite Materials is part of the Faculty of Engineering's Mechanical Engineering Department, but it also utilises the skills of researchers from a variety of disciplines including Engineering Science, Chemical & Materials Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chemistry. Forest Research staff will also contribute to research and are likely to be based at the Centre from time to time.

""The CACM has been set up initially for six years, with a possible extension after an independent mid-term review.





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