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Warwick centre to help automotive firms boost lightweight vehicle expertise

01 June 2013

A new £2.3m facility will enable the West Midlands’ automotive supply chain to exploit the opportunities offered by lightweight vehicle technologies.

The Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick is building a £2.3m centre to enable the West Midlands’ automotive supply chain to exploit the opportunities offered by lightweight vehicle technologies.

The new Automotive Composites Centre will provide local industry with hands-on technical expertise and equipment to develop its manufacturing capability for polymeric composites.

The requirement for lightweight structures will soon become the industry standard as automotive manufacturers seek to reduce emissions over the life-time of their vehicles.

By tapping into these new opportunities, the centre will help create jobs and growth in the West Midlands’ advanced manufacturing and engineering sector.

The Centre will work with local companies to ensure they are at the forefront of this technology in order to best service their existing customers as well as open up new markets. It will benefit from £500,000 of 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.

Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, Chairman of WMG, said “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. We welcome the funding from the Growing Places scheme which will assist in the development of this new centre.”

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, to be built as an extension of the International Manufacturing Centre at WMG, will be completed and equipped in the first quarter of 2014.

It will 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 Centre will 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.

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