Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FFI (Forward Flow Infusion - Low Cost Composite Manufacturing Process for High Volume Production)
Reporting period: 2014-11-01 to 2015-04-30
Globally there is a concerted effort to reduce the weight of products and components across a range of industries in order to improve efficiency and reduce the use of carbon emitting fuels. By replacing traditional materials like steel and aluminium with lightweight composites, significant weight reductions can be achieved whilst maintaining and often improving strength. The basic principle of the FFI manufacturing concept is to replace existing solid tooling materials with a porous material which allows a vacuum to be drawn through it using a semi-permeable release agent.
Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far
The Phase 1 feasibility study has clearly demonstrated the viability of the FFI process, preparing a way forward for further development within a Phase 2 development. The key potential European markets for the FFI process have been identified: automotive, aerospace, rail, military, construction and marine. Key end-users, material suppliers and processing equipment manufacturers have been identified.
Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)
From a technical stand point, the FFI process offers a unique opportunity for Forward Composites to develop a specialised high volume manufacturing process with potentially strong IP protection. However, from a business perspective, further appraisal of the commercial opportunities, investment funding requirements, cash flow and resource commitments is required. Based on this information, Forward Composites has taken the decision not to proceed with Phase 2 at this stage, with a view to further evaluating the technical challenges and market place where the FFI process would be best positioned. The company must further assess the affordability of investing not just in the development project but also in the capital investment for equipment. Once this has been critically evaluated, an application for Phase 2 funding may be made.