New materials institute launched in Wales

Materials World magazine
10 Feb 2020

A new materials and engineering research facility has been opened at Swansea University in Wales, UK. 

On 6 February 2020, First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford AM, officially opened a brand new facility to advance materials research and train future engineers to boost UK industry.

Named the Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies (IMPACT), the £35mln facility is located in a newly constructed, purpose-built block, which is part of the College of Engineering at Swansea University’s Bay Campus.

‘The future is brighter not only for the students who pass through these doors, but for Wales, which will benefit from their knowledge and innovations,’ said Drakeford. ‘As the world faces multiple challenges, such as climate change – it is the thinkers, the makers and the doers we will look to innovate and help us find solutions for the future.

‘We should be proud that on Wales’ own turf, this centre of excellence will be punching above its weight on the global stage.’

Intended to cater for collaborative research projects between industry and academia, the facility will target five core research areas - future manufacturing, next-generation material property measurement, advanced structural materials, thin films and coatings, and data centric engineering.

To serve multiple needs, the IMPACT building is split across two sections – an office portion and a laboratory portion connected via a central corridor. The administrative section in the Engineering North portion houses 80 single occupancy offices, a hub to sit 150 people, with co-location space for joined up working.

Meanwhile the functional area has 1,600m2 of open plan laboratories. The building has been kitted out with cutting edge equipment that would serve projects in innovative materials, modelling and manufacturing, and advanced engineering to support both theoretical and applied research projects.

It also has an array of robotics, cobots, additive manufacturing capabilities and a £1.2mln wind tunnel for testing air flow movements around solid objects.

During the launch ceremony, guests were given the opportunity to watch and take part in live demonstrations related to ongoing research projects.

‘IMPACT supports the global engineering economy through collaborative, fundamental and applied research, development and innovation. Our unique colocation facility means we can offer a transformative research environment for academia-industry partnerships,’ said Professor Johann Sienz, Director of Innovation and Engagement in the College, and Director of IMPACT.

‘These highly specialised laboratories will bring industry and academia closer together and the funding received from the European Regional Development Fund has greatly contributed to our growth as a leader in our field in the UK and beyond.

‘This unique facility will, therefore, help further support Wales as a global destination for innovation in advanced engineering and smart manufacturing.’

Image courtesy of Swansea University.