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State-of-the-art equipment installed at the National Composites Centre

National Composites Centre

Press release issued: 4 November 2015

Research carried out by University of Bristol academics together with composite manufacturing and training has been given a boost thanks to the installation at the National Composites Centre (NCC) of a new autoclave and CT scanner. The equipment has been funded as part of a £3 million grant awarded to the University from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Placing the CT scanner and autoclave, worth £1.1 million, at the NCC complements the extensive training facilities and facilitates the widest possible access for both academia and industry.

The Nikon XTH320 CT scanner uses x-rays to assess internal structures, and is capable of analysing large samples of up to 0.6m x 0.6m and 100kg, with a spot size of 10-40 microns. The ASC autoclave has been designed to be highly instrumented, integrated with a suite of sensing technologies, allowing NCC Members, customers and researchers to undertake detailed in-process monitoring. A better fundamental understanding of the manufacturing process will allow users to optimise both processes and products, leading to reduced cost and increased quality, ultimately increasing the take-up of composite materials.

Professor Kevin Potter, NCC Chair in Composites Manufacturing from the University of Bristol’s Advanced Centre for Composites Innovation and Science (ACCIS), said: “Placing this new equipment at the NCC’s state-of-the-art facilities will not only allow us to undertake world-class research in composites manufacture, but also facilitate the widest possible use of the equipment, by universities, NCC’s members and SMEs.”

The £28 million expansion of the NCC last year greatly enhanced the capabilities and capacity of the NCC, with the installation of the latest composites technology to enable a greater focus on supporting sectors such as automotive. The creation of the cutting-edge industrial learning facilities offers a unique opportunity for organisations to have staff trained in a realistic and safe workplace setting.  The NCC, a world-leading research and technology hub owned by the University of Bristol, offers a programme of training and workshops for a wide range of composites engineering and manufacturing disciplines.

Brian Thornton, Training Specialist at the National Composites Centre, added: “We are delighted this equipment has been placed here by the University of Bristol. This will enhance our extensive training facilities, allowing them to be better utilised by SMEs. This will give small and large businesses alike access to industrial learning facilities for composite manufacture.”

For more information on this equipment and the extensive training facilities available at the NCC, go to  

Further information

The £3 million investment awarded to the University of Bristol was funded by the Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) (grant reference EP/K035746/1 “Composites Innovation: from Atoms to Applications”).

About the NCC
The NCC is a £25 million investment supported by: the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (£12 million); the South West RDA (Regional Development Agency) (£4 million); and £9 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). It is owned and hosted by the University of Bristol. The NCC is a partner of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult.

ACCIS brings together composites activities across the University of Bristol, based in the Faculty of Engineering and linking to the Science and Medical Faculties.

Our vision is to be a world leading centre for composites research and education, combining cutting edge fundamental science with strong industrial links for exploitation and technology transfer. ACCIS is a focus for collaboration internally, nationally and internationally.

As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate.

By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture.

We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

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