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9th November 2017, Thornton Cleveleys

Victrex opens new PEEK composites plant

Victrex, a leader in high performance aromatic polyketone solutions (PAEK), has completed the company’s new £10 million world class Polymer Innovation Centre at its facilities in Thornton-Cleveleys, near Blackpool.

The centre is fully operational and further demonstrates Victrex´s dedication to pioneering R&D focused upon Victrex PEEK polymer and other differentiated grades within the PAEK family of high-performance thermoplastics. Recent innovations include the introduction of Victrex AE250 composites for the aerospace industry, which ties in with the company’s polymer- to-parts strategy.

New centre

The Polymer Innovation Centre will further extend Victrex’s capabilities in innovation and assist customers in the development of technological advances using Victrex PAEK solutions. Co-located at the company´s UK headquarters, the new centre will function as an enabler for rapid prototyping of new parts and components with novel PAEK materials.

Victrex new Polymer Innovation Centre. © Victrex

The manufacture of new and differentiated polyaryletherketones on a technical scale will help in the research and testing of high- performance polymer grades aimed at achieving progress in, for example, composites and 3D printing/additive manufacturing. Victrex is currently leading a consortium backed by Innovate UK to focus on 3D printing. Helping to improve the process for manufacturing existing polymers will also be supported by the new centre.

Development of new applications

“We continue to expand our PAEK-based portfolio, services and technologies into new markets and new applications. As an innovative world leader and pioneer in high-performance polymers, investments in science and manufacturing capability are key to continuous innovation and to improve innovation cycles and time-to- market,” said Jakob Sigurdsson, the new CEO at Victrex.

“This new facility is another important step for us, particularly as we anticipate around 10-20% of our overall sales will come from new differentiated PAEK polymer grades and our mega-programmes in the medium term. It will further enhance our capacity for R&D, where we will continue to work in close and continuous cooperation with our customers and partners in driving new and differentiated polymer solutions.”

The centre is expected to create approximately 60 new jobs in the region over the next 10 years. It delivers 30-70 kg batch manufacture of novel polyaryletherketones, and can support the continual improvement in quality and performance of existing products. The 16-metre high building is equipped with state-of- the-art pilot-scale process technology and equipment. After a three-year planning and construction phase, the Centre was recently completed and with funding, totalling some £ 1.3 million, provided by the UK’s Regional Growth Fund.

Industry megatrends

Across key industries, megatrends are driving the use of PAEK materials and Victrex´s R&D strategy, including the Polymer Innovation Centre, which is expected to function as an enabler in the delivery of identified growth opportunities.

With its advanced thermoplastics, production processes and integrated offerings, the company´s solutions are contributing to increased efficiencies by typically replacing traditional metals. For the automotive, aerospace, electronics and energy industries and also in the design and development of materials for the medical industry, Victrex solutions are designed to help to facilitate greater productivity, performance and reliability, as well as overall cost reductions.

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