Invention to speed up manufacturing

Inventor Phil McDonald with designs of the machine at Joseph Rhodes. (w640a326)

Inventor Phil McDonald with designs of the machine at Joseph Rhodes. (w640a326)

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A new machine which can produce stronger than steel material in seconds is set to revolutionise manufacturing.

A machine created by Wakefield-based manufacturing firm Joseph Rhodes is set to slash the costs and production time of thermoplastic material used in the aerospace, rail, aeronautical and automotive industries.

After spotting a niche in the market, Rhodes hired inventor Phil McDonald and established a research and development department in in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University to come up with the idea.

Mr McDonald said: ““We recognised that industries are crying out for speedy automated solutions for manufacturing fibre reinforced thermoplastic materials, which match the strength of steel and reduce the component mass by 50 per cent. However, at the moment these materials are only created by hand which is costly and time consuming.

“What we have done is create a machine that can produce a square metre of this material within eight seconds. It’s pretty remarkable and will save manufacturers a lot of money as well as time.”

Yet to be named, the invention is currently going through patent approval and Mr McDonald hopes to showcase the prototype at national exhibitions later this year.

Rhodes, which won the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2010, secured funding from patent and trademark specialist Appleyard Lees to protect the intellectual property and apply for a patent.

Appleyard Lees launched a £50,000 Growth Fund last year to offer financial support people with innovative ideas.

Dick Waddington, a partner at the Halifax-based legal firm, said: “We launched the Growth Fund to promote innovation and to help clients by offering our technical and legal expertise, as well as financial support, to help them protect their intellectual property.

“When we met with Phil to discuss his ideas, he presented a great case for his product and how this machine will improve the manufacturing process. We look forward to supporting him and Joseph Rhodes with their patent application.”