Advanced Engineering 2019

NTPT and Richard Mille Confirm Supply and R&D Agreements

20 February 2018

NTPT and Richard Mille Confirm Supply and R&D Agreements

North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT) and Richard Mille have signed a long-term collaboration and exclusive supply agreement. The new multi-year contract will see NTPT develop and provide its lightweight thin ply materials exclusively to Richard Mille for horology, jewellery and luxury stationery items.

As part of the agreement, NTPT is also in the progress of upgrading the R&D and production facilities at its headquarters in Renens, Switzerland. This multi-million Swiss franc investment will create a large clean room production area for a new prepreg line, automated tape laying (ATL) machine and autoclave. The new facility will help develop quartz-based blocks with the highest levels of purity to make high quality composite components, and enable NTPT and Richard Mille to jointly explore the future possibilities of thin ply material technology.

NTPT began its collaboration with Richard Mille when thin ply prepregs were used in a watch for the first time, to produce the original RM 011 in Carbon TPT. The watch case was machined from a solid carbon block, formed using 30 micron layers of carbon fibre prepreg cured in an autoclave. The transition between each layer provided the distinctive TPT surface effect. Following on from this first project, NTPT responded to Richard Mille’s challenge to develop additional materials with a range of coloured options, resulting in the JEC award-winning Quartz TPT. Four years later, NTPT materials are now extensively used within Richard Mille watch cases and are also being integrated into the micro components of the watch movements.

The properties of NTPT thin ply materials are said to provide Richard Mille with a level of design engineering customisation and weight reduction not possible with conventional composite technologies, resulting in new watch developments like the RM 50-03 McLaren F1 – the world’s lightest split-seconds tourbillon chronograph weighing less than 40 g. This development introduced a new material, the Graph TPT, a Carbon TPT whose physical properties have been considerably improved by the injection of graphene. This was possible thanks to collaborative work between the University of Manchester, McLaren Applied Technologies and NTPT.

“We are thrilled to be strengthening our partnership with Richard Mille with this new agreement," comments Francois Mordansini, Group Chairman, NTP. "It’s a fantastic way to start 2018 and we’re really excited to see the future material possibilities that we can create together.”

“The Thin Ply carbon and quartz materials developed and supplied by NTPT are instrumental in helping us to provide the finest watches and luxury accessories that combine the best technical innovation, the best of artistry and architecture and the best techniques in watch making with hand finishing,” states Richard Mille.

Photo provided by NTPT

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