SPECIAL COMPOSITE FEATURE TO CELEBRATE THE NEW UK COMPOSITE INITIATIVE
By Julian Nettlefold
On November 26th 2009, U.K. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson announced new investment totalling £22m to further advance the development of composite materials. Composites are increasingly used for their lightweight, super strength properties in aeroplane wings and racing cars. He used a visit to Williams Formula One’s Oxfordshire to launch the investment and publish the Government’s new Composite Strategy.
The investment is made up of:
a. £16m for a new National Composites Centre in the Bristol area (£12m from central Government, £4m from the South West Regional Development Agency)
b. £5m for the winning firm’s to develop new composites manufacturing techniques (to be won via the Technology Strategy Board’s new ˜Grand Challenge™ competition, launched today) and £1m upfront funding to help develop challenge bids.
In the UK Composite Strategy document Lord Mandelson estimates that the high-value composites market is currently worth about £1 billion to the British economy. The UK offshore composite wind turbine blade and aerospace wing market alone could be worth £22 billion by 2020 “highlighting composite low carbon credentials. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said, “Any modern economy is built on the ability to exploit the opportunities on offer by new and existing high value markets such as composites. Our approach is now to back areas of the economy which have the biggest potential to create wealth and jobs and take advantage of the skills of our people.”
“Today’s new strategy will help us to exploit the potential of composite materials which could help us lower carbon emissions, make cost savings by making things which last longer and boost our position globally making the UK the place to produce and develop composites.”
“Government has an irreplaceable role in ensuring that the right conditions are in place to support long term growth. This means investing in the country’s high-tech low carbon future including supporting and investing composites.”
GKN Aerospace joined tier one industry partners Vestas, Airbus and Rolls Royce in celebrating the Government’s announcement of a new National Composites Centre (NCC) to be based in the south west of England.
Marcus Bryson, Chief Executive Officer, GKN Aerospace stated, “We were a founding member of the UK’s National Composites Network, launched in 2005 and are fully committed to the Government’s National Composites Strategy. This new Centre in the South West will be a key facility in enabling UK manufacturing as a whole to develop new composite material applications and to extend our expertise in an area that is a critical UK manufacturing skill for the future.”
The new NCC is close to two of GKN Aerospace’s key UK facilities – at Filton in Bristol and Cowes on the Isle of Wight. GKN Aerospace is the leading independent supplier of composite structures to the global aerospace sector, supporting UK-based companies such as Airbus and Boeing as well as a wide range of international customers. The Company has been a key force in driving forward the use of composites in aviation and is now instrumental in developing new and innovative manufacturing techniques that are extending the performance and environmental benefits of composites further across the airframe and into the aero-engine.
Many of the new techniques developed recently are already being implemented in the new automated production facility now being created at the Company’s Filton West site in Bristol – and due to be operational in 2010. Filton, acquired from Airbus in January this year, is to be developed as GKN Aerospace’s global centre of excellence in aero-structures offering state of the art composite manufacture and assembly with faster turn around times and greater consistency and quality than has been achievable to date.
Marcus Bryson continued, “The new NCC will be of critica