July 2015 saw the Composites Innovation Cluster (CiC) reach the end of its second year. The Cluster is funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills’ Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI).
28 companies form part of 14 projects, which brings together academics, industry suppliers, and primes to support the delivery of a nationally connected network of materials specialists, manufacturing and process businesses, tooling and systems providers.
The past year saw the Cluster release its Executive Report, which gave an overview of the achieved goals from year one, including information on the jobs created and safeguarded by the programme when it had already reached a quarter of the three-year target of 209. The full report is available on the programme website.
The programme partners have made some significant developments within their project work over the past twelve months.
Gary Ottley, Managing Director of Gudel said; “Our involvement in the CiC ATTOM and ACTIVATE projects has pushed us to develop new methods of handling Composite material – both Pre-Preg and Dry Fibre for new and demanding automated applications”.
“The CiC projects fit perfectly with the Gudel Global strategy to develop smart automation for use in the Composites Manufacturing Industry. As a UK division of the Global Gudel Group, we are responsible as the Centre of Competence for Composites, to deliver technical solutions for the automation of composite component manufacture to the rest of the Gudel Group. The funding stream provided by the CiC through the AMSCI programme has enabled us to develop a smart Gripper System to handle some variable shaped parts for high volume automotive applications, plus a Gripper System to handle dry-fibre variable shapes up to 8 metres in length.”
Formaplex has also seen a big success from taking part in the programme. Matt Sellens, Formaplex’s Business Development Manager said; “Formaplex is a partner in the CiC RITAA (Resin Injection Technologies for Automotive Applications) project. We have designed and manufactured a High Pressure Resin Transfer Mould (HP-RTM) tool to produce development components of 4 different thicknesses. The tool has been trialled in Krauss-Maffei and the National Composites Centre using Krauss-Maffei HP-RTM injection equipment.
“The first HPRTM trials at the NCC with our tool were undertaken before the NCC’s own tool was available to use from their Italian supplier. Our tool was also used as part of the commissioning of the NCC’s new PEI press in parallel with our own RITAA test and development programme. Around 40 component parts have been moulded which have been cut into test pieces to measure mechanical properties and residual cure shrinkage. This data is now being used to correlate LMAT’s simulation software that will be used to predict compensated mould surfaces to compensate for mould cure distortions.”
The Composites Innovation Cluster will be exhibiting at the Advanced Engineering Show on 4 – 5 November on stand C144 where representatives from programme partners will be on-hand to answer any queries. The ACTIVATE, DATACOMP, ECOPROCESS, LiRIC, LOWPRO and THERMOCOMP projects will be showcased via a series of forum presentations in Open Forum Area 2, which is adjacent to the stand.