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The Future Composites Manufacturing Research Hub is a £10.3m investment by the EPSRC to engage academics from across the UK to deliver a step-change in the production of polymer matrix composites.
The Hub is led by the University of Nottingham and the University of Bristol and includes 13 Spokes: Brunel University London, Cranfield University, Imperial College London, Ulster University, the University of Bath, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow, the University of Manchester, the University of Sheffield, the University of Southampton, the University of Warwick, and Wrexham Glyndwr University.
The Hub is supported by 4 High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centres and backed by 18 leading companies from the composites sector, offering a further £12.7m in additional support.
Building on the success of the EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Composites (CIMComp), the Hub will drive the development of automated manufacturing technologies that deliver components and structures for demanding applications, particularly in the aerospace, transportation, construction and energy sectors.
Over a seven-year period, the Hub will underpin the growth potential of the sector, by developing the underlying processing science and technology to enable Moore’s law for composites: a doubling in production capability every two years.
To achieve our vision we have identified five research priority areas, in collaboration with industry partners and the Composites Leadership Forum:
In order to match these priorities with UK capability, we have identified the following Grand Challenges, around which we will conduct a series of projects:
To mitigate against technical risk, each project will start with a 6 month Feasibility Study, which, if successful, will lead to a full Core Research Project, typically lasting for 3 years.
Following a review of the Hub research portfolio, 8 Workstreams have been established to focus the research programme more effectively towards achieving our Grand Challenges. Over 30 projects have been funded by the Hub to date and these Workstreams are being used to improve the synergy between the smaller investments and the large Core Projects:
A new call for additional Feasibility Studies will be announced in year 4.
Calls for proposals will be open to all UK academic institutions and will be advertised widely via our website, EPSRC, and major composites newsletters. Awards will be limited to £50,000 at 80% FEC over up to 6 months and must address a fundamental step-change in composites manufacturing technology that aligns to the research priorities outlined above. There is over £4m of funding available through this flexible model and this is the primary mechanism for new academic partners to gain Spoke status within the Hub.