This month I visited the UK's new £25 National Composites Centre which officially opens in November.

Part of the UK government’s UK Composites Strategy, published in November 2009, the NCC is designed to provide industrial-scale manufacturing facilities capable of building prototypes to validate design concepts and rapid manufacturing processes.

As NCC CEO Peter Chivers explains, the centre aims to bridge the gap between the university laboratory and the company factory: “We offer a route from idea to prototype, with low risk, time and cost.”

Vestas, Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Rolls Royce, Agusta Westland and Umeco have signed up as Tier 1 members of the NNC. This top level membership costs £0.3 million a year, but other levels of membership suitable for small and medium sized firms are available.

NCC membership (or as Chivers prefers to call it ‘pre-paid research’) will give companies access to a range of versatile equipment, supported by product development experts, with the opportunity to work alongside other manufacturers and material and equipment suppliers. This cross-disciplinary, cross-company interaction is at the heart of the NCC’s strategy.

A feature about the NCC is being published in the November/December issue of Reinforced Plastics.