A specialist centre to help develop lightweight materials for the automotive industry is to be built in the Midlands.
Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) is building the Automotive Composites Centre in response to growing industry demand for lightweight vehicle technologies.
The £2.3 million centre will provide industry with hands-on technical expertise and equipment to develop its manufacturing capability for polymeric composites.
Use of such materials is on the increase as manufacturers step up their efforts to reduce emissions from vehicles and achieve greater fuel-efficiency.
The new centre is aiming to work with local companies to help them cater for the changing needs of existing customers, as well as exploiting new markets.
Built as an extension of the International Manufacturing Centre at WMG, it is set to be completed early in 2014.
Around a fifth of the funding (£500,000) will come from the Government’s Growing Places fund, administered by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, with the remainder made up by the University of Warwick and industry partners.
Birmingham Post columnist Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, chairman of WMG, said the new centre was part of plans to be an R&D world-leader.
He said: “As WMG continues to expand our new R&D centre for composite materials will help keep the region’s automotive sector at the cutting edge of the latest manufacturing technology.
“We welcome the funding from the Growing Places scheme which will assist in the development of this new centre.”
WMG’s academic director Professor Richard Dashwood said: “This is great news for the West Midlands’ automotive supply chain.
“It is vital to the region’s competitiveness that companies develop the knowledge to introduce polymeric composites into automotive structures.”
“The centre will allow the automotive supply chain to experiment with low volume try-outs of materials and equipment and to gain experience before committing to significant capital investment without disrupting their production operations.”