A global player in the tyre and construction reinforcement markets has teamed up with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) to develop new advanced composite technologies.

A high-level delegation from Kordsa, which has facilities across the world, visited the AMRC to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in which both organisations agreed to collaborate in the composites industry, as well as establish a connection between the University of Sheffield and Sabancı University in Istanbul.

Kordsa, who have invested in composite technologies over the last few years, see the collaboration as an opportunity to quickly scale up the business journey to new composite technologies. Combining AMRC's ground-breaking manufacturing techniques with their own expertise in composite materials, Kordsa aim to be among the major players in the UK aviation and automotive network by developing new advanced composite technologies.

Through its supply of the aerospace and automotive markets, Kordsa has been a market leader in tyre reinforcement since the company was founded in 1973 and has earned the moniker ‘The Reinforcer’ due to its reshaping of the industry and innovative approach. In 2016, Kordsa established the Composite Technologies Centre of Excellence (CTCE) in Istanbul in partnership with Sabancı University as part of an initiative to push the boundaries of advanced composite material technologies.

Kordsa CEO, Ali Çalışkan, said: “As a company with an open innovation approach, Kordsa works with many different universities, companies and research organisations both in Turkey and abroad, engaging in joint projects with world-renowned specialists in their fields. The AMRC is a good fit for Kordsa and the Centre of Excellence we have in Turkey. Each passing day we strive to reinforce a larger area and build a more reinforced future. We are looking for opportunities for collaboration and growth globally and that is the reason for signing the MOU. I can proudly say our passion for innovation will always drive us to find new and better ways to reinforce life in every geography we operate.

“The AMRC business model, where partners and industrial players collaborate together, presents us with new ideas for growth and provides opportunities for the future. There are many aerospace companies and other industries that we could join forces within a similar ecosystem in Turkey. Dedicated to reinforce life, we invest in the future to create unique value through innovation and redesigns that reshape the industries in which we operate. This partnership with the AMRC is going to help us a great deal in putting a new ecosystem in place and we also expect some opportunities to invest in the United Kingdom as we develop further advanced materials in the composites industry.”

The Kordsa delegation were given a tour of the AMRC by CEO Colin Sirett, who said: “Kordsa were hugely impressed with the scope and depth in technology we have. They can see parallels with the technology streams they’re planning to develop for the future and developing at the moment, so there is a perfect match for future work together.”

Colin said this offers the prospect of both strong research links and inward investment: “There are all the elements in this: the technology, the potential for manufacture and then the jewels in the crown are the research links and potential joint PhD delivery between Sabancı University and the University of Sheffield.”

The CTCE will enable AMRC engineers and University of Sheffield PhD students to work in a state-of-the-art facility, Mr Çalışkan said: “The site at Technopark Istanbul is 3,500 m2 and has capabilities for material and mechanical characterisation tests, additive manufacturing, polymer processing and advanced composite manufacturing methods using several methods including autoclave and automated fibre placement as well. It is the only production and test centre in Turkey which meets the international aerospace requirements. Established to produce the technology of the future, the CTCE serves as innovation hub.”

Colin noted that with the continuing uncertainty around Brexit, building associations with organisations outside the EU is essential from the AMRC’s perspective. The MOU also demonstrates the international reputation of the AMRC as the go-to place for advanced manufacturing and composite technology. “If you look at the positioning of the University of Sheffield for the future, with everything else that is going on, which is completely outside of our control, these are critical, strategic relationships.

“These links work best when there are shared gains as well as a shared opportunity; they will give us a footprint for education, technology and potential investment in both directions.”

Bahattin Koç, Professor at the Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Sabancı University, said: “Beyond the initial scope of this MOU, we are very hopeful about the academic scope of the collaboration. Together with the University of Sheffield, we will be exploring the opportunity of joint Ph.D programmes, collaborative researches, and we intend to support the foundation in establishing a training centre based on the successful model operating in Rotherham.

“Additionally, a 5-year support programme will be generated covering all aspects of the centre’s operation. The agreement also includes a Master Research Agreement, which will search for long-term funding opportunities and will have an initial focus with the R&D Group and provide access to the appropriate Tier 1 AMRC Partners. I am confident that both academy and industry will benefit from this collaboration.”