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Small Firms Take Free Tech- support as NCN Message Gets Through

  • Friday, 30th September 2005
  • Reading time: about 3 minutes

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A growing number and variety of technical enquiries coming into the Helpdesk of the National Composites Network confirm its recognition as a key resource for UK companies manufacturing and using composite products.

Deborah Pullen, Director of the National Composites Network (NCN), said: ¡§We¡¦ve had requests for general information on composites which, prior to NCN, was not readily available from a single source. We respond individually to these enquiries but an increasing number of registered users of the NCN website are accessing the broad-ranging information now available online at

¡§More specialised enquiries are coming from companies with considerable experience in composites. For example, they may want to improve their QA and are looking for a suitable NDT method; or they may need to know who can provide an independent analysis of an in-service failure.¡¨

As well as providing information, the NCN Helpdesk personnel (01223 894 662 or can set up free, one-to-one consultations with experts and organise practical assistance through a range of free, in-depth technical support services.

NCN free technical support is helping companies like Ultimate Sports Engineering (USE) and Team Jota.

USE, which makes components for the specialist road and mountain biking market, is exploring use of a new material-form with the aim of expanding its range of composite components. Engenuity Ltd, one of the NCN¡¦s expert subcontractors, is helping USE by carrying out advanced finite element analysis to identify component performance requirements and optimise the design for manufacture with composites, avoiding the many pitfalls associated with producing simply ¡¥black metal¡¦ designs.

The challenge for Team Jota, a leading British Sportscar Championship team, is to find a durable, low mass, low volume means of preventing heat from the car¡¦s exhaust system damaging the car¡¦s composite honeycomb floor. Materials joining specialist TWI Ltd is investigating flame spraying an aluminium-based powder directly on to the structural floor, to produce a heat reflecting surface. Around 100ƒÝm thick, the coating has good adhesion and can be polished to enhance its reflectivity.

¡§Before NCN was set up it could be difficult for small companies to access specialist expertise to develop their products or resolve technical issues. This was either because of the high costs involved or the problem of identifying a suitable resource¡¨, said Deborah Pullen.

Jointly funded by the DTI and industry, the NCN connects all areas of UK composites expertise across all technologies and industry sectors. This know-how, plus nation-wide facilities, underpins a powerful range of free technical support services for UK companies (primarily SMEs) involved in or moving into any aspect of composite product manufacture or use.

Companies wishing to benefit from NCN technical support are invited to contact the Helpdesk on 01223 894 662 or email

To become a registered user of the NCN website, readers should visit and on the homepage scroll down to Register with the NCN.

The NCN is managed by TWI Ltd with support from partner organisations within the composites industry: Airbus; British Marine Federation; Composites Processing Association; GKN Aerospace; and the Motor Industries Research Association.

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