Machine tools are used across engineering and throughout
the manufacturing of composite materials, alongside other aspects of
manufacturing technology such as metrology (measuring) equipment and
computer aided design and manufacturing systems (CAD/CAM). Innovation in
this area will be essential for the future success of British industry,
and MACH, MTA says, will present the ideal platform for visitors to see
the latest developments first-hand.
Composites are becoming more important in manufacturing, particularly
in the automotive and aerospace sectors. Engineers are increasingly
looking at composites as an alternative to aluminium airframes as they
look to improve the efficiency of fuel consumption and aerodynamic
performance of new aircraft. MACH exhibitor Airbus for example, has been
working with the National Composites Centre to research new industrial
designs and materials. Its latest plane, the A350, benefits from
lightweight carbon fibre composites for both its fuselage and wings.
In addition to being extremely strong and lightweight, the use of
composites also opens up other potential savings. Composites mean that
manufacturers can get a good surface finish to optimise aerodynamic
performance, for example.
"Innovation is arguably the most powerful weapon composite
manufacturers have in their armoury to achieve competitive advantage,"
says Graham Dewhurst, Director General, MTA. "Innovative manufacturers
are more productive and typically grow at twice the rate of those that
fail to innovate. They also tend to be more competitive, and respond
better to change. Quite simply, if a company doesn't make time for
innovation, its prospects for success and long-term viability as a
commercial concern are slim."