Professor Tony McNally
The Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) based at the town’s University has established a new National Plastics Processing Centre (NPPC).
The new Centre is designed to provide a national hub for innovation and research in plastics processing and is said to bring a fully integrated approach to plastics design, manufacturing and disposal, encompassing multifunctional design and low environmental impact.
“The manufacture and processing of plastic and rubber materials is a multi-billion pound industry central to the future prosperity of the UK,” commented WMG’s Chair, Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya.
“There isn’t an industry which is not underpinned in some manner by plastics materials, from telecommunications, energy, transport and defence to healthcare. The centre will have capability in every polymer process with pilot scale equipment and larger, extensive testing and characterisation facilities.”
WMG already has an extensive range of plastic design, manufacture and research technologies across its facilities, which will now work together in the new Centre. It will have its own bespoke building by 2017, with facilities for training, research and development, and will also house a fully equipped elastomer technology laboratory.
“The research focus of the Centre will be in innovation in the manufacturing processes and processing of advanced functional plastic and elastomer materials. We will work collaboratively with industry to deliver significant added value, engage in technology transfer and provide training and further education to the sector,” said Professor Tony McNally, NPPC Director.
“Our new Centre’s research will be built upon four principles for materials processing: innovating the manufacturing process, added functionality to material and component, full integration into structure, and sustainability and holistic environmental design, including end of life.”
Since it opened, WMG has an established track record of innovation and technology transfer in plastics processing. It has developed extensive capabilities and facilities across a wide range of processes and working with both large global companies and SMEs across a variety of sectors to develop and embed plastics processing.
The capability offered from WMG is that most widely used within the plastics industry's processes, including extrusion/compounding, injection moulding, thermoforming, blow moulding and rotational moulding.
Tony Harper, Head of Research and Advanced System Engineering at Jaguar LandRover (JLR), commented: “Materials for premium cars in the future need to combine both light weight and multi-functionality with world class aesthetics.
“New developments in advanced plastics have great potential to satisfy all of these requirements but the challenge is not to make a few prototypes but to make parts in hundreds of thousands at high quality and sustainable cost. This unique new Centre will provide the UK with the capability it needs to exploit this potential. “