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09-11-2015

Formax Presents New Innovation Center

Formax, Leicester, UK, manufacturer of engineered composite reinforcements, has opened a new Innovation Centre. Located at the company's headquarters, the Innovation Centre is Formax's latest investment in its expanding Innovation Department, which is tasked with developing new products and providing technical support to the company's global customer base.

Led by Tom James, Director of Innovation, and now employing six staff, the Department has recently restructured into three divisions focusing on Polymer Composites, Automation, and Ceramic Composites. "The Innovation Centre will enable us to continue to support and grow our core business of composite reinforcements, and also allows us to expand beyond multiaxials," explains Oliver Wessely, Formax's Managing Director. "We see huge opportunities to exploit our technical textiles expertise in the area of preform manufacture and in numerous applications outside of the polymer composites industry."

The new Innovation Centre will enable Formax to accelerate its work in key areas such as fabric architecture development for polymer and ceramic composites, fabric and composite characterization, and process simulation (figure: Formax)

The new Innovation Centre will enable Formax to accelerate its work in key areas such as fabric architecture development for polymer and ceramic composites, fabric and composite characterization, and process simulation (figure: Formax)

The Polymer Composites Division will continue to lead Formaxs market leading research into optimising multiaxial reinforcements for technically challenging applications. Recent additions to the Innovation Centre include a modified ‘picture frame’ fixture and fabric bend testing equipment to aid in the study of fabric drape, and a fabric permeability test rig which can provide estimates of permeabilities at a given volume fraction for use in predicting resin fill time and dry spots.

The new Automation Division's activities include fiber pre-processing (including tow spreading), fiber placement for automated net shape 2-D preform manufacture, and automated 3-D preform manufacture. Equipment includes a carbon fiber testing cell for use in characterization of tow width, spreadability, filament orientation and filament breakage, and a robot for preforming studies. A fabric ply cutting and kitting service is also available.

The Ceramic Composites Division will pursue non-polymer applications for Formaxs technical textiles. Current projects include the combination of novel, low cost ceramics with recycled short carbon fibers for use in high performance, low cost friction applications, and the carbon fiber reinforcement of concrete, bitumen and gypsum for civil engineering use.

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