+ Composites is an Interreg IVB project gathering together 12 partners, which aimed to enhance innovation and technology transfer in composites with businesses Northwest Europe (NWE) providing support and assistance through training activities, network and market intelligence.
About the project
The main objective of this project has been to encourage technology transfer from the composite materials networks to SMEs in North West Europe. +Composites supported SMEs wishing to make the transition to composite technologies, in accordance with the rules of sustainability. Targeted sectors include transportation industry and related industrial equipment, which are common to the NWE regions.
During four years of field activity + Composites has offered 54 events and inter-professional seminars. You have been invited to 22 visits to companies and laboratories in six regions. Composites + participated in more than 12 regional and international exhibitions including professional trade shows like JEC Europe, Composites Europe, Texcomp, etc.
Around 20 SMEs have benefited from the support of + Composites and the expertise of partners from six regions to initiate a transfer of technology to composites. Let's mention two cases among others:
- GRADEL, Luxembourg-based company located in Ellange, is specialised in mechanical studies and design in the aerospace, nuclear and glass sectors. In October 2013, GRADEL - supported by the + Composites' Belgian partners - worked on the design and the implementation of a composite structure for ground use in the space sector. An entirely new structure for the company.
The contribution of + Composites in terms of expertise in structural design and choice of materials, the discussions on the manufacturing processes, and the lookout for a a partner to develop a prototype allowed GRADEL to propose a technical solution that has been selected through a call for proposals launched by ESA (European Space Agency).
- Another example: AEROFLEET. AEROFLEET is a Belgian company located in Soumagne, specialised in high-temperature composites, mainly in the marine industry and the aviation sector.
In 2012, after an initial contact with + Composites, AEROFLEET launched a series of feasibility studies with different project partners' laboratories in order to lead to the integration of fiber optic sensors in structural elements of a sail boat. Critical parts were then instrumented to maximise the composite manufacturing and to provide information on aging and restrictions on use.
The technology is being integrated on prototypes (October 2014).
At the end of the project the socio-economic impact is difficult to measure accurately. We can nevertheless list the following:
Moreover, the impact on the politics of regional development is a reality: it is illustrated by example in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - the launch of a feasibility project of a competence center for composite materials in October 2014.
Finally, the +Composites project did work out an efficient, socio-economic network of industry players, scientists, public institutions and clusters.