16 March 2023
The National Composites Centre is today (16 March 2023) launching its first Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project with composites design and manufacturing specialists, Carbon ThreeSixty.
The two-year project aims to transfer and embed specialist composites technology within Carbon ThreeSixty that will enable the design, development and manufacture of highly optimised, lightweight and higher performing composite components and structures, such as aircraft landing gear, all-composite car wheels and energy storage pressure vessels.
The project will focus on Tailored Fibre Placement (TFP), a unique and innovative automated technology where a single bundle of reinforcement (tow) is effectively sewn onto a backing in almost any direction or shape and can be built up in layers. This means the laminate can be tailored to have certain mechanical properties in certain locations at the tow level rather than the usual bulk fabric properties. It is an affordable and agile technology that offers highly specific fibre position and orientation that also reduces material cost.
The technology is highly novel and will help Carbon ThreeSixty to develop more optimised, lightweight composite structures using an automatable process that also reduces material waste during manufacture.
As part of the project, a graduate, known as a KTP Associate, will be recruited and primarily based within Carbon ThreeSixty, supported by experienced NCC engineers and with access to its world-leading facilities and expertise. The project’s ultimate aim is to enable Carbon ThreeSixty to innovate and develop optimised products using TFP, supporting the business’ growth ambitions. This collaborative approach provided by the KTP project is essential to knowledge transfer between the two organisations. Recruitment for the KTP Associate will be launched on the NCC jobs shortly: https://jobs.nccuk.com
Ruth Courtney, the NCC’s Engineering Capability Lead for 3D Textiles, will supervise the appointed Associate throughout the duration of the project, providing guidance and training on the practical use of the associated technology and software. She said: “We are delighted to partner with Carbon ThreeSixty in our first KTP project, enabling them to access our wealth of experience in TFP technology and manufacturing processes to help meet their business growth ambitions. Our TFP capability is currently very academically focused, and we believe that embedding a KTP Associate will bring huge commercial benefits for both the NCC and Carbon ThreeSixty.”
Tom Higginbottom, Lead Engineer at Carbon ThreeSixty, added: “TFP is a transformative manufacturing technology for composite structures, and we have merely scratched the surface of what is possible. The KTP project will help us unlock many commercial opportunities through further enhancing our ability to design composite structures utilising TFP preforms and ensuring that we exceed our customers’ expectations getting our products right, first time.”
The National Composites Centre, one of the seven centres of High Value Manufacturing Catapult, is one of more than 100 KTP ‘Knowledge Bases’ that works with small and large businesses to develop their KTP projects that aim to positive commercial impact, embedding technologies and management processes within businesses supporting their long-term growth plans.
The Knowledge Transfer Partnership programme has been running for nearly 50 years and during that time has enabled more than 14,000 businesses to drive innovation for positive impact. Innovate UK KTN is a delivery partner of the programme, providing expert support to all KTP projects and Associates via its national network of over 30 Knowledge Transfer Advisers.