Friday, July 3, 2020

Derby company wins major railway and infrastructure award  

Composite Braiding, a manufacturing firm which specialises in thermoplastic composite braiding technology, has won a major accolade at the JEC Composite Innovation Awards 2020.

The firm, which is based at the iHub on Infinity Park in Derby, alongside a consortium of manufacturers known as Project Brainstorm, has won the ‘Railway Vehicles and Infrastructure’ award for designing a lightweight alternative to the metal frames of train carriages.

The JEC Innovation Awards celebrate the most successful and innovative projects in the composite industry worldwide and acknowledge the co-operation between the different segments of the composite supply chain.

The winners in 13 categories were announced at a virtual awards ceremony, which was streamed online to viewers across the globe.

Composite Braiding and partners FAR-Composites, Transport Design International (TDI) and the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), operating under the name ‘Project Brainstorm’, have developed and manufactured a prototype spaceframe as a light-weight structural solution for (Very Light Rail) VLR application.

The consortium has developed a braided composite tubular frame which was much lighter and comparatively as strong as a metal alternative. The process also proved to be better for the environment and is much easier to fix than the standard composite structures.

This award comes just six months after and Project Brainstorm won Technical Innovation of the Year’ at the Global Light Rail Awards 2019.  The project was funded by the Department for Transport and run by Innovate UK.

Composite Braiding has established its own manufacturing capability at the 45,000ft2 iHub, the centre-piece of Infinity Park, the new 100-acre commercial and technology site, located between Sinfin and Chellaston.

The company specialises in thermoplastic composite braiding, an innovative process which provides a stronger, tougher and more flexible alternative to woven composites. By combining thermoplastic with a composite material, braided structures are tailored to meet demands and performance criteria across any sector and can be produced at over a mile a day and much lower cost.

Commenting on the award win, Steve Barbour, managing director of Composite Braiding, says: “To follow-up our win at the Global Light Rail Awards with this one is a tremendous achievement for everyone involved with Project Brainstorm.

“We’re thrilled to have been recognised for our work on this challenging but hugely rewarding project.

“The outcomes and impacts achieved by the Brainstorm project could be adopted quickly by light rail manufacturers or developed and adapted for additional applications within transportation and engineering.

“It was great that the awards were able to take place online despite the current health pandemic and we can’t wait to celebrate as a team in person.”

Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, adds: “Congratulations to Steve and the team at Composite Braiding for winning this prestigious award.

“Over the past three years Composite Braiding has helped the iHub establish a reputation for creating cutting-edge ideas in the aerospace, automotive and transport engineering industries.

“I’d like to wish Steve and his consortium partners every success with the future development of Project Brainstorm.”

The iHub, which has Enterprise Zone status, provides high quality, flexible workspace for start-ups, early stage businesses and high growth SME’s looking to establish, or expand their role in the rail, aerospace and automotive supply industries.

The £12m facility has attracted a diverse range of businesses from across the rail, aerospace and automotive supply industries. As well as 18 traditional office workspaces, it features 14 ground floor workshops for businesses seeking a more hybrid working environment.

The iHub also features the innovative ‘iLab’, which enables the rapid prototyping of a range of products and services. It features high end virtual reality, 3D printing and surface microscope equipment.

The building also offers a multi-purpose ‘heart space’ area, available for hosting external conferences and events, along with meeting and seminar rooms.

The development has received funding from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as well as Derby City Council and the University of Derby.

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