National Composites Centre

The NCC is the UK’s World Leading Composites Research and Development Centre Which Has its Headquarters in Bristol, UK

" We are industry’s research and development partner. When companies need to make things lighter, stronger, smarter and more sustainable they come to the NCC. With access to ‘beyond’ state-of-the-art technology and the best composites engineering capabilities in the world, we help our customers solve the most complex engineering challenges of our time".

- Richard Oldfield, CEO

The NCC is the UK’s world leading composites research and development centre which has its headquarters in Bristol, UK. Its key focus areas are Composites, Digital Engineering and Sustainability. It brings together the best minds and the best technologies to help solve the world’s most complex engineering challenges.

What is a composite?
A composite is two or more materials combined to make an optimized material. Usually this involves a fibre and a matrix. So, for example, straw and mud separately both do a job…neither ideal for building a shelter but mix them together and you get strength from the fibres in the straw and stability from the mud… and a far better end product; however, at the NCC we work with advanced composites using myriad fibres and matrices, two of the most well-known being carbon fibre and fibre-glass.

Where are they used?
You’ll see composites in both every day and state-of-the-art products because of their versatility, from glass fibre wind turbine blades, formula 1 to family electric vehicles and yachts to carbon fibre aircraft wings and bikes. Composites make life better by allowing us to do more and enjoy leisure activities that keep us fit. Most people will own composites in their sporting goods such as fishing rods, skis, football boots, prosthetic running blades and tennis rackets. They protect and save lives, existing in MRI scanners and radiotherapy beds, bulletproof vests and firefighting heatproof protection. Meanwhile many will have seen ceramic composite brake discs on cars and ceramic heatshields on spaceships.

Why are they important?
Composites will help us achieve a sustainable net zero – from alternate energy sources including wind turbines to zero emission transport and haulage that harnesses the power of hydrogen. They can be used to protect and save lives, they enhance lives allowing us to enjoy healthy sporting pursuits, they level up the playing field allowing people of all abilities to do more of things that they love.

The National Composites Centre
Headquartered in Bristol UK, the NCC has had investment of over £250m in capabilities, making it home to arguably the world’s most advanced automated composites manufacturing facility. The latest investment of £37.6 million specifically in ten new digital capabilities will revolutionise the way we design, engineer and manufacture. As a test bed for industry, the NCC is part of the UK’s first quantum secure industrial network and hosts a private industrial 5G network.

The NCC works with companies of all sizes – from micro startups to some of the world’s largest innovators across sectors as diverse as aerospace, wind, oil & gas, defence, space, auto and rail, construction and infra-structure, sporting goods and medical devices.

The NCC links academic excellence with industry – forming a bridge between the two and pulling through research to the products that we use every day. It brings together the best minds to solve some of the world’s most complex challenges – its team of 350 employees is bolstered by strong links with over 70 of the world’s leading universities. Closer to its HQ, it works extensively with the University of Bristol’s leading Bristol Composites Institute, the University of Bath and the University of the West of England. It is also part of CimComp, a group of UK universities supported by government through the national research funding organisation, UK Research and Innovation, to push the boundaries of composites research. NCC’s industrial members include Airbus, Network Rail, Rolls-Royce, Reaction Engines, Saudi Aramco, Vestas, BAE Systems.

Each year the NCC and its Tier 1 members agree and shape a programme of mutually beneficial research, called the Core Programme. Tier 2 and Associate Members can apply to ‘buy in’ to this programme. SME affiliate members also benefit from the knowledge that is gained. Through the NCC Connect Team, SMEs, startups and micro-companies can access advice, networks and training.

The NCC is one of seven centres that make up the High Value Manufacturing Catapult – the UK’s largest Research Technology Organisation which has a proven track record of helping UK business of all sizes.

Through the NCC, companies across the south of England can easily access the services of the other six geographically spread centres that make up the Catapult. This also enables people to access skills and training programmes of the UK network – aimed at equipping the workforce of the future with the tools and knowledge they need to allow innovation and productivity to flourish.

Innovators always look beyond. So when they want step change, they come to the NCC.

National Composites Centre (NCC)

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