Swansea appointed UK centre of excellence

10 December 2009

Researcher at Swansea University’s Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating is screen printing next-generation photonics interfaces

The important role of Swansea University’s Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating, as a UK Centre of Excellence for Plastic Electronics, has been highlighted by The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Plastic Electronics is one of the UK government’s priority areas in the policy statement Building Britain’s Future - New Industry, New Jobs, because of its potential to create a new, innovative and competitive industry, generate high-value jobs, and deliver local and global economic benefits.

To ensure that the UK remains a global leader in the multi-billion pound industry of the future, the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) will continue to work with the printing community to enable the industry to use plastic electronics, together with existing skills and capital investment, to develop new product lines, such as sensors for the automotive, aerospace and medical sectors that will add value, create new markets and underpin the continued success of the industry in the UK.

Professor Tim Claypole, Director of Swansea University’s School of Engineering, explained: “While you would normally associate the fundamental science of printing with the production of newspapers, packaging and books, The Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating, based in Swansea, has focused its research on the application of traditional printing methods to the manufacture of new and novel products. It is a credit to our strategic vision, coupled with our awareness of incoming technologies and a strong tradition of partnership and collaboration with industry, which has led to Swansea University being recognised as a UK Centre of Excellence for Plastic Electronics. We welcome this opportunity to build on our strengths and to apply our knowledge and skills to help create an innovative and competitive economy.”

Printing is already one of the major manufacturing industries in Wales, with over 30,000 people employed in 1000 companies, but the sector needs to be innovative in order to thrive in the global market. With the creation of a new multi-billion pound industry around plastics electronics, there is an opportunity for Wales to build a successful and contemporary manufacturing base that addresses the diverse needs of large and small to medium sized businesses.

Through the work of Swansea University, as a UK Centre of Excellence for Plastic Electronics, Welsh businesses will have open access to world-leading research, facilities and expertise
to support them through each stage of new product development; from proof-of-concept through to production. And, in partnership with four other UK Centres of Excellence, Swansea University’s WCPC will provide access to world-class academic expertise and an environment in which start-up companies are expected to emerge and be incubated.

Professor Ian Cluckie, Pro Vice Chancellor of Science and Engineering at Swansea University concluded: “By carrying out world class research, offering industry sponsored studentships, and applying the acquired knowledge and skills to the benefit of industry partners, The Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating is not only an exemplar for the Plastics Electronics sector but also one of many hidden gems within Swansea University’s School of Engineering. This is an exciting time for everyone who has contributed to the development of the UK strategy and for the many businesses set to benefit from greater participation in the global supply-chain for Plastic Electronics.”

According to the UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the global market for Plastics Electronics is under $200 billion today but is forecast to grow at an astonishing rate over the next decade, exceeding $120billion by 2020 and as much as $330 billion by 2027. The largest growth in the sector is predicted to take place in the markets for rollable electronic display screens, ultra-efficient lighting and low-cost, long-life solar cells.

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