Huddersfield-based Antich, which has three decades of experience weaving fine worsted cloth and making bespoke tailored suits, has been collaborating with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to create lighter, stiffer and stronger components for the aerospace and automotive sectors.
Daniela Petre, composite engineer at Antich, believes that traditional textiles firms can contribute more to innovations such as 3D wovens.
“There are so many technical fibres that have really good mechanical properties that you could put in the part of a car or you could design aero engines with for example,” she told The Yorkshire Post. “This is something that is the future.”
Ms Petre says the UK is lagging behind the US when it comes to technical development such as preforms. The time and money required for research and development being one of the key issues. Antich started looking at advanced composites ten years ago.
Antich invested £2.5m in state-of-the-art machinery and used its weaving expertise to develop the WeForm process.
The WeForm process predominantly uses carbon fibre, but can be used with a range of other materials including fibreglass, basalt and aluminium.
“What this project tried to achieve was to create this tapered preform,” Ms Petre said. “Getting the thickness tapering, going from 10mm to 4mm was technically quite difficult and it required a lot of design hours and trying to figure out how to get your loom to create such a thing.”
The business, which employs around 80 staff, now has two divisions - one for weaving and another for advanced composites.
Chris McHugh, dry fibre development manager at the AMRC, said: “The developments here support the creation of more competitive products that are lighter, stiffer, stronger as well as helping diversify income streams, creating new jobs and increasing the skills base in composites.
“The new processes the AMRC has worked on with Antich & Sons have the potential to generate significant new business for the UK in high value manufacturing applications, creating high end products such as premium cars or commercial airliners which are strong exports for the UK."
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