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A project on enhanced composites manufacturing and testing


TWI has acquired an enhanced composites manufacturing and testing capability as part of a UK funded collaborative project. A new thermoplastic composites press (Fontijne Grotnes the LabPro 600) will significantly improve TWI’s ability to manufacture 600mm x 600mm thermoplastic and thermoset composites. A suite of new composites test fixtures has also increased TWI’s structural integrity capability.


TWI is part of a 15-partner cluster, led by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and supported by Axillium Research, which includes SMEs, Mid-Tier and Primes from industry working alongside academic institutions. This new £10 million jointly-funded project between government and industry will back the best new technologies and research that can have a “dual-use” in defence and civil sector businesses.

The Dual Use Technology Exploitation (DUTE) cluster will help boost growth by linking UK manufacturers, particularly SMEs, from the civil and defence sectors to draw on the best technologies of both to deliver game-changing solutions for customers. 

The project is split into four ‘use cases’ investigating different approaches to the dual use theme: ACCSE, DUALMAT-EVOS, KESTREL II and LightArmour.


TWI’s ACS section is the main partner in the ‘Advanced Composites for Cross Sector Exploitation’ (ACCSE) use case in the DUTE project. Partnering with Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group and Haydale Composite Solutions, the ACCSE use case will address the challenge of exploiting defence and aerospace advanced structural composites into adjacent sectors such as rail, through the collaborative development of Automated Fibre Placement (AFP) manufacturing processes. Part of this exploitation will consider migration of aerospace standards and process rigor into the rail industry, setting the standard for lightweight rail structures of the future.

At the end of the project it is anticipated this use case will have created or safeguarded 66 jobs. 

Programme of Work

The initial work packages of the project are designed around establishing a business case for Marshall to acquire an advanced fibre placement capability. TWI have advised Marshall on the relative performance benefits of several different types of AFT technology and helped them produce specifications for tender to help assess product performance. TWI will use its new press and composites test fixtures to compare the mechanical properties of composites manufactured using several advanced manufacturing processes.

TWI’s surfacing (SUR) and non-destructive testing (VAL) sections will also contribute to the project by demonstrating their capabilities on the generic demonstrator components that have been selected as examples of dual use applications.

At the conclusion of the project, TWI experts will spend several days at Marshall’s training staff in composites, adhesives, and inspection technologies appropriate to dual use applications.


The total programme value includes £6.5 million of Government funding from the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) and will support the creation of more than 140 new jobs and safeguard a further 190 jobs across 15 partners up to 2019.

For more information, please email

Test fixtures: 4-point bend, Iosipescu shear
Test fixtures: 4-point bend, Iosipescu shear
Avatar Dr Chris Worrall Consultant – Polymer Composite Technologies

Chris is responsible for delivering composites joining, manufacture, processing and testing services to TWI’s Members and through public funded projects. He has spent 10 years in Japan working in the automotive, aerospace, renewable energy and rail transport industries. Before leaving the UK, he worked in a research laboratory on the processing of novel thermoplastic composite materials, improving the toughness of composites, and developing test methods for composite materials.

His 35 years of composites expertise covers; mechanical testing of composite materials (including impact, fracture and toughness), composite-metal joining, thermoplastic composite welding, microstructure characterisation, finite element analysis (FEA), design, and manufacturing technology for composite materials.

Chris was a participating member of ESIS TC4 and worked on the development of the protocol for Mode I DCB ISO standard between 1994 and 1999.Chris holds a PhD in the field of impact of composite sandwich structures in addition to a BSc in metallurgy and materials science. Chris was the lead author of the Composites UK’s ‘Good Practice Guide to composite joining’ publication, and was part of the SurFlow™ team at TWI that recently won a Composites Association Innovation award.

For more information please email: