EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Composites Manufacture

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Aerospace Engineering


The theme area is manufacturing of engineering composites structures, specifically those which comprise continuous high performance fibres held together with a polymeric matrix. The relevant industry areas include aerospace, automotive, marine, wind energy and construction.
The proposal demonstrates continuing and growing need in the UK polymer composites manufacturing sector for suitably technically qualified individuals, able to make positive and rapid impact on its international manufacturing competitiveness.

Extension of a newly created Industrial Doctorate Centre in Composites Manufacture fills an existing gap in provision of industrially focussed higher level education in the UK, in the specialist discipline of polymer composites manufacturing. It has its centre of gravity in Bristol, with the rapidly expanding National Composites Centre (NCC) the natural home-base for the cohorts of composites manufacturing Research Engineers embedded in the composites manufacturing industry. This new hub of applied research activity focussed at TRL 3-5 is different from but highly complementary to the outputs of composites manufacturing PhD students within the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites (CIMComp), working on more fundamental research topics in composites manufacture at TRL 1-3. Achieving a clearer definition of the industrial composites manufacturing challenges and of new knowledge base requirements will provide direction for the industrially relevant accompanying fundamental research.

The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites has established and maintains close management overview of this IDC , as well as fostering links with related CDTs within the wider High Value Manufacturing Catapult, initially specifically the AMRC Composites Centre IDC in Machining Science. Over time such connections will establish a critical mass of industrially focussed manufacturing research activity in the UK, raising the national and international status of the EngD brand in the composites industry, in academia and in professional institutions by targeted dissemination through CIMComp in conjunction with the NCC

Planned Impact

The newly created IDC will continue to deliver future leaders for the composites manufacturing industry in the UK, past its current end-date of 2018. Its major output will be a significant number of engineering innovation leaders with a high quality research doctorate (EngD) and ready to qualify for Chartered status with an appropriate learned institution.
Bespoke taught modules in composites, specifically tailored to the needs of the manufacturing engineer, are being developed for the IDC REs. No such taught provision exists elsewhere and will represent a valuable new educational resource that can be shared more widely, strategically organised within the developing national strategy for composites education and training.
The IDC's combined research portfolio creates a new knowledge resource on composite manufacturing, covering direct manufacturing technology - processes and operations, modelling and simulation, design for manufacture, and design for recycling. Sharing of the new knowledge base will rapidly inform the areas where further fundamental level research is most needed, thus narrowing the all too common time gap between basic research and application.
The IDC will continue to help both the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites and the National Composites Centre to discharge their common task of acting as 'national centres'. The NCC and the EPSRC Centre act as enablers for targeted high quality dissemination by organising and hosting a range of events designed to showcase the best in UK composites manufacturing. To achieve this we are combining our resources to draw in relevant UK university teams, enable regular industry participation, interact with learned institutions and with our relevant European neighbours. Our manufacturing REs, trained in public engagement, will strive to become the best advertisement for the EngD brand. Together with our PhD cohort, they will become the network of ambassadors for the national centre and for UK composites manufacturing.
The most immediate industrial beneficiaries of the continuation of the IDC will be those UK composites manufacturers who elect to support the REs, either as new researchers or as existing employees. The extension of this provision to companies currently not engaged with the NCC, especially to SMEs or groupings of smaller companies, is seen as particularly important, narrowing the knowledge gap and enhancing competitiveness.


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