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Wednesday, 08 February 2006

Alun Michael

New centre sets standards for testing technology

INDUSTRY and the Regions Minister Alun Michael has launched a new part DTI-funded centre in South Wales that is enabling UK industry to move into higher value-added products.

Mr Michael and Economic Development and Transport Minister Andrew Davies launched the Non Destructive Testing Validation Centre at Port Talbot.

The initiative is jointly funded by DTI and the Welsh Assembly and will advance the use of non-destructive testing (NDT) by ensuring that rapidly evolving techniques and procedures can be applied in a consistent and accurate manner to all materials, in particular to composites.

Mr Michael said: “As part of the National Composites Network, this centre is an important element in the Government’s strategy of enabling UK industry to move into higher value-added products.

“I am pleased to share a platform with Andrew Davies and to celebrate the fact that this site is once again a centre of scientific endeavour. It will be an indispensable resource for engineers to ensure that their products are high quality and have high integrity for an increasingly demanding and safety conscious society.”

NDT, while important for many traditional materials such as steel, is increasingly important for the newer materials developments such as composites, which are being used more and more in safety critical applications. Both Boeing’s and Airbus’s next generation passenger aircraft will have high composites content.

If the UK is to remain at the forefront of technical advance in materials it is essential we have access to accurate and reliable NDT techniques. This centre represents the start of what could become a major EU centre for NDT if future plans come to fruition.

NDT is not new but increasingly is becoming more important for manufacturing quality control, and in service performance monitoring. Consistency of interpretation of the results produced is becoming more and more critical thus validations of the technique and procedures used is key, hence the need for a national independent centre to do this.

As aviation authorities seek to impose more stringent in service monitoring requirements the need for validation will become more important. This centre marks the beginning of what could become a major leading global centre of NDT validation.

The National Composites Network (NCN) is a £30m UK initiative to promote and enable access to state of the art composites technology to anyone who wants it in the UK. A major delivery objective is to complete the UK’s composites technology portfolio through a series of regional centres each of which fills a unique gap. Two such centres have already been launched, one in the South East focussing on automated lay up and assembly and one in the South West on high integrity large components. Two other are planned for launch later this year in the North West and Yorkshire.


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