Airbond, the experts in the science of fibre splicing and its applications, is celebrating securing the Queen’s Award for Innovation - the UK’s highest accolade for business success - for its new patented, splicing technology. This is the second Queen’s Award the company has achieved, having won another for innovation in 2013.
The technology delivers game-changing improvements in operating costs for yarn processors in the textiles and the composites industry. Airbond has invested heavily in R&D as previously splicing carbon or glass fibres with compressed air turned them to dust as they were so brittle, even though strong longitudinally.
That research led to unique machines which for the first time spliced modern composite materials. The innovation in these machines lies in control of the air with newly developed accessories. The splicer bodies themselves were of conventional design and took some time to develop.
When the machines began to sell, the company found that the resins used in many composites processes adhered to the splicer surfaces, inhibiting their performance. They were also asked to splice yet bigger yarns, and to develop more sophisticated splicers. Airbond overcame these challenges with more investment in innovation.
New designs of machine keep the splicing units hidden and protected inside a sturdy moulded shell, making them much more durable. The outer shells are inexpensive, so that they can be viewed as consumables if covered with resin while the splicers themselves remain pristine.
Airbond remains heavily committed to R&D and is adopting revolutionary methods of manufacture during 2019. The company exports to 40 countries worldwide with local support provided by its network of agents and distributors, including in the USA.
The company has also won various regional innovation awards, such as South Wales Chamber of Commerce for Innovation.
This year 201 winners were announced: 129 for International Trade; 61 for Innovation; 5 for Sustainable Development and 6 for Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility). The awards are made annually by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and are awarded for outstanding achievement in each category.
Graham Waters, MD of Airbond, said: “Splicing is a mature technology which had stagnated for decades. We have catapulted it into the 21st century. Get it wrong and you will waste a lot of product, transforming fibres into dust. However, we have invested heavily in R& D to get it right, and we are really pleased at the recognition of this second Queen’s Award for Innovation.
“This was a whole team effort, with every member of the company contributing to its success. I am proud and lucky to work with such a talented and creative group of people. It is also heartening that our hard work is begining increasingly recognised by our customers, with more and more companies seeing what our splicer can achieve.
“This is a very exciting time for the company, and I am looking forward to deliver cutting edge precision splicing help our clients save time, money and resources.”
Airbond provides solutions for all yarn splicing needs, especially new composite applications. It is now creating the next generation of pneumatic yarn splicer for the future.
Representatives of Airbond will be attending a special Queen’s Award reception at Buckingham Palace in June to celebrate this significant achievement.