A Calne company has been awarded nearly £500,000 from the Government’s SMART Innovate UK scheme, to continue researching and testing its ground-breaking plastic welding technology.
The revolutionary polymer welding technology from Pinweld gives discrete yet strong welds. Its goal is to achieve the same strength and flexibility as the original material, and the technology is already gathering substantial interest from the automotive repair sector in the UK.
The funding, part of Innovate UK’s £23 million investment to deliver disruptive R&D (research and development) innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy, will help Pinweld and its partners, TWI Ltd and Rainbow Engineering, move into the next phase of development at TWI in Cambridge.
Keven Chappell, Founder of Pinweld said: “When we went to visit the National Body Repair Association (NBRA) in Rugby with the initial research findings, the response was overwhelmingly positive resulting in continuous support for the Pinweld technology. This led to an introductory meeting with senior engineers at Thatcham Research, Berkshire who confirmed the views of the NBRA. Our work in this one sector alone (Automotive) could have significant, global, sustainability benefits as we look to support the circular economy.”
Plastic waste is one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the world today and in 2018 the UK signed a global commitment to eliminate plastic pollution by ‘significantly increasing the amounts of plastics reused or recycled and made into new packaging or products’ or ‘innovating to ensure 100% of plastic packaging can be easily and safely reused and recycled…’
The company’s initial focus is the UK car body repair market working closely with the National Body Repair Association (NBRA) and Thatcham Research in Berkshire The technology can also be applied to a wide variety of industries using different plastics, including those that are recycled. Interest from a broad range of companies including water distribution, aerospace, manufacturing from both the UK and overseas, demonstrating a strong export potential.
Scott Andrews, Principle Project Leader for Novel Polymer Technologies at TWI said: ‘The possibility that Pinweld enables continuous joining of high-performance thermoplastic and thermoplastic composite materials, of varying thicknesses without the need for an additional material at the joint, would be game-changing. The team at TWI are very excited to be at the forefront of the Pinweld plastic welding development programme and validation of the process could enable Pinweld to become the go-to joining solution for many large high-performance plastic components and structures’.
Previous support has been given to the project through the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub (STBAH) and also received additional support of the Advanced Engineering Business Acceleration Hub (AERAH). Both programmes are funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported by Bath SETsquared and the University of Bath. Business support, mentoring, workshops and opportunities to collaborate with members at the university has also led to extensive new areas to explore for the Pinweld technology