Airbond wins Queen's Award for splicing technology
Airbond (Pontypool, U.K.), recently received the Queen’s Award for Innovation — the UK’s highest accolade for business success — for its new patented, fiber splicing technology.
The technology reportedly delivers improvements in operating costs for yarn processors in the textiles and the composites industry. Airbond says it has invested heavily in R&D as previously splicing carbon or glass fibers with compressed air can turn the fibers to dust due to brittleness, despite their strength longitudinally.
The research led to unique machines which reportedly for the first time spliced modern composite materials. According to Airbond, the innovation in these machines lies in control of the air with newly developed accessories. Airbond says the splicer bodies themselves were of conventional design and took some time to develop.
When the machines began to sell, the company found that the resins used in many composites processes adhered to the splicer surfaces, inhibiting their performance. They were also asked to splice yet bigger yarns, and to develop more sophisticated splicers.
New machine designs keep the splicing units hidden and protected inside a sturdy molded shell, making them much more durable. The outer shells are inexpensive, so that they can be replaced if covered with resin while the splicers themselves remain pristine.
Airbond remains heavily committed to R&D and is adopting revolutionary methods of manufacture during 2019. The company exports to 40 countries worldwide with local support provided by its network of agents and distributors, including in the USA.
The company has also won various regional innovation awards, such as South Wales Chamber of Commerce for Innovation.
This year 201 winners were announced: 129 for International Trade; 61 for Innovation; 5 for Sustainable Development and 6 for Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility). The awards are made annually by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and are awarded for outstanding achievement in each category.
Graham Waters, managing director of Airbond, says:
“Splicing is a mature technology which had stagnated for decades. We have catapulted it into the 21st century. Get it wrong and you will waste a lot of product, transforming fibers into dust. However, we have invested heavily in R&D to get it right, and we are really pleased at the recognition of this second Queen’s Award for Innovation. This was a whole team effort, with every member of the company contributing to its success.”
Airbond provides solutions for all yarn splicing needs, especially new composite applications. The company says it is now creating the next generation of pneumatic yarn splicer for the future.