Formaplex’s new Research & Development Centre has been officially opened by Professor Gordon Murray CBE.
Invited customers from across the automotive, motorsport, aerospace and defence sectors came together to see the new facilities and to champagne toast the opening.
Ian Wilson, the founding director of Formaplex and Managing Director of its Specialist Engineering Division (SED), talked passionately about the company’s humble beginnings in June 2001, exactly 18 years ago. Two ambitious individuals with two CNC machines and a vision to supply the best patterns in the shortest time possible to the motorsport community.
Ian went on to say, “People asked us how we could turn around work so quickly. We simply worked 20 hour days and made it happen.” Since then the company has grown to over 730 employees across four sites. He said, “We were worried about how we would fill a 3,500 sq. ft unit. Now we have over 300,000 sq. ft. We have grown this quickly because I seem unable to say no and like a challenge, plus I have very talented employees around me to deliver them!”
The main event was the official opening by Professor Gordon Murray CBE. He started by describing how he had worked with Formaplex on many programmes over the years. Describing Formaplex as “an absolutely classic example of what this country [the UK] is good at.” He continued, “When you work with Formaplex, it’s much more of a technical partnership rather than a [normal] supplier relationship.” He then went on to announce that Formaplex would be the composite chassis and body technical partner on his new T.50 supercar. Conceived as the spiritual successor to the Murray-devised Mclaren F1, the T.50 will be the purest, lightest, most driver focused supercar ever built.
“This is a game changing moment for us,” said Ian Wilson. “Over the past 6 years we have been committed to building a composites manufacturing capability that provides exceptional local support to our UK customer base in high end automotive, aerospace and defence. Our can-do approach, openness and commitment to our customers has brought us to this point. This opens up so many more opportunities in the composites industry for Formaplex.”
Matt Sellens Sales Director at SED said, “We have seen a conscious change in our customer base to re-shore production sourcing back to the UK. This speaks of the quality and capability that we have in the UK composites industry and how reactive and responsive Formaplex is to our customers’ needs. Our ability to develop new automated high volume manufacturing processes only reinforces this position and strengthens our range of product and process offerings.”
Cars from past and present projects were on display including the beautiful Singer Dynamics and Lightweighting Study (DLS), Nissan Bladeglider provided by Williams Advanced Engineering, Force India F1 car and GMD iStream Superlight chassis & iSeat demonstrators.
Guests were taken on a tour of the Formaplex SED Campus. The site encompasses high quality epoxy pattern machining through to composite mould tool lamination, jig & fixture manufacture, component manufacture, machining and specialist painting & lacquering creating a dedicated full service supply for composite part manufacture.
The show pieces of the R&D Centre include a 600 tonne Hare press and a brand new Stratsys F900 3D printer.
Guests were shown the automated process of pressing lightweight composite iSeat bases in under 5 minutes. This was the culmination of an Innovate UK project carried out in partnership with GMD – the Manufacturability of Advanced Passenger Seats (MAPS.) The finished trimmed seat was on display demonstrating a sub 12kg fully functional composite automotive seat.
The press is also producing Liquid Compression Moulded (LCM) roof panels utilising ELG recycled carbon fibre as well as SMC components.
A fantastic day was had by all and guests left buzzing with ideas about how they could further develop their business relationships with Formaplex.
Established in 2001, Formaplex has grown its revenue to over £60M with over 730 employees. Our polymer and composite parts can be found on many UK built luxury and supercars as well as jet engines and submarines