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Manchester launches £2.1m aerospace composite centre

24 February 2006

A new £2.1 million centre for aerospace composite design and manufacture is to be opened at The University of Manchester in the UK.

The Northwest Composites Centre (NWCC) will carry out research into new low cost, low energy routes for making polymer composite materials, which will be used to construct lighter, more fuel efficient aircraft.

The NWCC, which is a joint venture between the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool, Lancaster and Bolton, will be one of only four Centres in the world using the 'Quickstep' technology, which is claimed to enable large composite parts to be rapidly manufactured to aerospace standards. The centre will also pioneer other new methods which will allow them to fuse composite materials together more quickly.

The NWCC will also have access to a wide range of techniques for producing technical textile structures, rapidly manufacturing composites and evaluating their structure and performance.

Funding has been awarded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency following a successful application to the Northwest Science Fund (NWSF).

Dr Richard Day, Director of the NWCC, said: "Current methods for producing composites are relatively inefficient which makes using these materials to construct aircraft an expensive option. If we can speed up the production process, and create these materials more cost effectively, and through lower energy usage create a lower impact on the environment, then we have the potential to economically produce planes which are lighter, stronger and more fuel efficient."

Mark Hughes, NWDA Executive Director of Enterprise, Innovation and Skills, said: "The NWDA is pleased to fund the creation of the Northwest Composites Centre, which 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 and it is critical the Northwest is at the forefront of this movement. With strong linkages between research and industrial exploitation, the Northwest has what it takes to pioneer world-class composite processing."