Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) is to build a new £2.3 million Automotive Composites Centre (ACC).
The purpose of the ACC will be to enable the West Midlands’ automotive supply chain to exploit the opportunities offered by lightweight vehicle technologies.
The centre will also provide local industry with hands-on technical expertise and equipment to develop its manufacturing capability for polymeric composites.
The polymeric composite requirement for lightweight structures is soon to become the industry standard, as automotive manufacturers endeavour to reduce emissions over the lifetime of their vehicles.
The ACC will help create jobs and growth in the West Midlands’ advanced manufacturing and engineering sector.
It will work with local companies, ensuring that they are at the forefront of this technology so they can best service their existing customers and open up new markets.
Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, Chairman of WMG, commented: “As WMG continues to expand, our new R&D centre for Composite Materials will help keep the region’s automotive sector at the cutting edge of the latest manufacturing technology.”
The Centre will benefit from £500,000 funding from the Government’s Growing Places fund, administered by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, with the remainder made up by the University of Warwick and industry partners.
“We welcome the funding from the Growing Places scheme which will assist in the development of this new centre,” said Lord Bhattacharyya.
WMG’s Academic Director Professor Richard Dashwood said: “This is great news for the West Midlands’ automotive supply chain.
“It is vital to the region’s competitiveness that companies develop the knowledge to introduce polymeric composites into automotive structures.
“The Centre will allow the automotive supply chain to experiment with low volume try-outs of materials and equipment and to gain experience before committing to significant capital investment without disrupting their production operations.”
The new Centre, which will be built as an extension of the International Manufacturing Centre at WMG, will be completed and equipped in the first part of 2014.
It will be designed to allow companies to research the structure of the right feedstock materials, the choice of fast-setting resins and the determination of the ideal press operating conditions.
The ACC will also allow access to forming presses, computer controlled cutting, resin mixing/injection, plasma treatment and joining facilities.
It will build on the successes of previous low carbon technology projects at WMG, for example the Low Carbon Technology Vehicle Project supported by £17m of AWM/ERDF funding in 2009-12.