The first phase of a new £12 million hi-tech research centre that will lead the way for greater use of 'composite materials' was opened recently by Industry Minister Jacqui Smith.
The new composite structures development centre based at Airbus UK Filton, is the first of several regional centres to open and will concentrate on composites for the aerospace and marine sectors.
Over the next five years the centre will undertake more than £100 million worth of research and development into composites and will employ around 100 engineers.
Jacqui Smith said:
"Composite materials are vital to industry because they have the ability to produce lightweight and stronger materials that have environmental benefits for UK manufacturing across the whole of industry. That is why I am delighted that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and South West Development Agency (SWRDA) have contributed to this fantastic new centre.
"Partnership with industry is critical to keep UK manufacturing at the forefront of technological development and show the rest of the world that we can and will be competitive in the 21st century.
"We have some of the best manufacturers in the world and the aerospace industry is one of the most successful sectors in the UK economy. It currently employs well over 100,000 people and has a turnover of almost £20 billion."
Based at Airbus UK, the centre will also see collaborative work with other industry sectors such as automotive, marine and healthcare and will act as the 'hub' of a regional alliance of companies, universities and colleges who will offer a world-class capability in the field of composite technology.
The demand and use of composites is predicted to grow rapidly in the coming years and is expected to replace metal across a wide variety of industries.
The composite centre in Filton will form part of the National Composites Network which is a new and unique £30m Knowledge Transfer Network jointly funded by government and industry that will embrace the entire composites processing and using industry sectors in the UK.