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WMG establishes new National Plastics Processing Centre

Professor Tony McNallyWMG at the University of Warwick has established a new National Plastics Processing Centre (NPPC) which will provide a national hub for innovation and research in plastics processing.

The new NPPC brings a fully integrated approach to plastics design, manufacturing and disposal, encompassing multifunctional design and low environmental impact.

WMG has an extensive range of plastic design, manufacture and research technologies across its facilities which will now work together in the new Centre. It will have its own bespoke building by 2017 with facilities for training, research and development, and will also house a fully equipped elastomer technology laboratory.

WMG has an established track record of innovation and technology transfer in plastics processing. It has developed extensive capabilities and facilities across a wide range of processes and working with both large global companies and SMEs across a variety of sectors to develop and embed plastics processing. The capability offered from WMG is that most widely used within the plastics industry's processes including extrusion/compounding, injection moulding, thermoforming, blow moulding and rotational moulding.

From the early days of their research, WMG recognised that plastics offer significant design flexibility advantages for industrial application – examples include:

Reduction of concept development time using design automation

Prototype tooling for low volume manufacturing in as little as one day

Non-destructive testing and materials analysis

  • Thermal stress analysis for damage control and part optimisation
  • Real time component analysis using infrared technology

Plastic parts with Enhanced Functionality

  • Hybrid metal/plastic injection moulded parts
  • In mould surface decoration and modification
  • Embedded electronics and coded data
  • Energy harvesting and storage

Light-weighting of plastic components

  • Innovative reinforcements
  • Metal replacement
  • Gas assisted compression moulding for density reduction
  • Nano-reinforced foamed structures

Development of novel processes

  • Use of cryogenics to reduce stress
  • Structural foaming for reduced costs and increased stiffness

Plastics in the Circular Economy

  • Identifying applications for recycled plastic materials
  • Waste reduction through simulation and new manufacturing techniques
  • Energy efficiency of the plastics recycling process

WMG’s Chair Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya said:

The manufacture and processing of plastic and rubber materials is a multi-billion pound industry central to the future prosperity of the UK. There isn’t an industry which is not underpinned in some manner by plastics materials, from telecommunications, energy, transport and defence to healthcare. The centre will have capability in every polymer process with pilot scale equipment and larger, extensive testing and characterisation facilities.”

Professor Tony McNally, NPPC Director said:

The research focus of the Centre will be in innovation in the manufacturing processes and processing of advanced functional plastic and elastomer materials. We will work collaboratively with industry to deliver significant added value, engage in technology transfer and provide training and further education to the sector.”

Our new Centre’s research will be built upon four principles for materials processing: innovating the manufacturing process, added functionality to material and component, full integration into structure, and sustainability and holistic environmental design, including end of life.”

Tony Harper, Head of Research and Advanced System Engineering at JLR, said:

Materials for premium cars in the future need to combine both light weight and multi-functionality with world class aesthetics. New developments in advanced plastics have great potential to satisfy all of these requirements but the challenge is not to make a few prototypes but to make parts in hundreds of thousands at high quality and sustainable cost. This unique new centre will provide the UK with the capability it needs to exploit this potential. “

Notes for editors: - The UK plastics industry is a global leader and operates at the cutting edge of technology development. It has an annual sales turnover of £19 billion, employs 180,000 people and represents 7% of all UK manufacturing (British Plastics Federation).

For further information please contact:

Peter Dunn, Director of Press and Policy, University of Warwick
Tel UK: 024 76523708 office 07767 655860 mobile
Tel Overseas: +44 (0)24 76523708 office +44 (0)7767 655860 mobile/cell


Lisa Barwick, Head of Marketing and Communications,
WMG, University of Warwick
Tel: 024 76 524721 or 07824 540845

PR251 PJD 13th August 2015