ACG formed to help UK exploit global market for low cost high volume composites

Through its Manufacturing Working Group, the Automotive Council and the Composites Leadership Forum have formed the Affordable Composites Group (ACG). The group aims to proactively facilitate the development of UK technology capability and supply chain capacity to deliver high productivity manufacturing of globally competitive, higher volume composite structures and components.

Advanced composite materials combine strength and stiffness with low weight and high performance in demanding environments. This suits them for use in aerospace applications, and in the UK it is the aerospace industry which has driven the development and manufacture of relatively low volume, high value composite materials.

Automotive companies are discovering the benefits of composites as a way of reducing weight - and therefore fuel consumption and emissions - in their vehicles without compromising on strength. This is further driving demand for high volume, lower cost advanced composites.

A demand which the existing UK composites supply chain, with its focus on being cost-effective for low-volume, high value added products, will need intervention and support to capitalise on the market opportunity. In the UK alone, the market for automotive composites is predicted to grow from a current value of approximately £300m to over £3bn in 2030, whilst the total global market could be worth £80bn.

The ACG collaboration is an example of industry taking the lead in identifying and proposing measures to address gaps in the current supply chain.

Phillip Bruce, chairman of the ACG, said: “It is extremely important that industry leads the thinking on what is needed for the UK to maximise the opportunities of the predicted growth in the market for lower cost higher volume composites. Now is the time to be proactive and gather support for quick delivery of measures, to avoid the UK losing out as industry offshores composites production.”

Tom Austin-Morgan

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