SWWPG Chairman's Report 2011-12

South Wales and Western Polymer Group
,
25 May 2012

Peter Burchell, the Chairman of the South Wales and Western Polymer
Group, gives a brief overview of the year's events and highlights,
including visits, lectures and other engagements. 

The season got off to a good start with a well supported Works Visit
to Wavin at Chippenham. I learnt a lot about current practices in volume
moulding and extrusion of thermoplastics, as did everybody in the
party. It is heartening to see a UK based (albeit foreign owned) company
successfully manufacturing at high volume in the UK.

By popular members request Barry Statham came out of retirement to give an educational and amusing Brief History of Rubber.

Ken
Forsdyke gave a good talk on Thermal Insulation Products, which
included introducing me to a new material- subsequently I am trying to
apply it in commercial aircraft cabins. Thermal Insulation applications
are all about keeping heat in or out, and the competing materials often
have very different chemistry and even form- for example your
competitors are not just other PU foam suppliers, but also wood products
and mineral fibres.

The Student talk went well, and attracted a
number of guests as well as members. The subject of The Effects of
Liquids on Carbon Fibre Epoxy Composites is of great personal interest,
as I have been supporting studies into this subject by Swansea students
for many years. The methodology for modelling moisture uptake is well
established, and applied in aircraft design, work reported at the talk
is expanding the range of fluids studied. The second talk was also
Composites based, and NDT and Modelling of Impact Damage in Carbon Fibre
Composites examined the damage done by impact upon aerospace
composites.

The Swindon Dinner was good as ever, the students run a
very professional restaurant, it was a real recession buster price and a
good speaker- my guests loved it- and a good night was had by all. We
all came away with a better understanding of how ‘quirky’ early
helicopters were to fly, strange Cold War military helicopter tactics,
application of advanced materials and how well the Air Ambulance apply
the latest models to saving life.

An ongoing challenge for the
committee is running a full programme for members spread across such a
large geographical area. Communication methods are evolving fast, and we
need to keep pace, can the e-generation of IoM3 members help guide
SWWPG into the 21st century! Do webinars work, should we organise our
talks in a Video suite? How about a polymeric Dragons Den, bringing
together local Venture Capitalists, putative entrepreneurs and materials
specialists- audience participation expected, or a debate on PCR of
thermoplastics? Perhaps you fancy organising a visioneering event in
conjunction with a group of designers, to combine their design concepts
with our materials ideas? Please bring us fresh ideas, offer to organise
an event for the programme, or at least join the discussion.

A
local matter of national significance is the development of the National
Composites Centre at Emersons Green, Bristol.  A number of the
specialists there are former colleagues of mine, and I am a regular
visitor to use their state of the art resources. It is a huge state
investment in Polymer based Composites development, to ensure that world
leading products are Made in the UK and SWWPG members can look forwards
to hearing about their achievements at future evening talks.