Two Loughborough based SMEs, EPL Composite Solutions and Frangible Sign Posts Ltd (FSP).
EPL Composite Solutions Ltd (EPL) – formerly known as Euro-Projects (LTTC) Ltd – is an independent company specialising in the design, development and commercialisation of advanced polymer composite materials on a global basis. Frangible Safety Posts Ltd was established in October 2009 by Gerry Boyce (Founder of EPL Composite Solutions), Niall Mackay and Craig Pyser.
Both SMEs are celebrating the completion of a collaborative project which has pushed the development of ‘crash friendly’ hybrid composite sign posts forward.
The development of furniture that can pass impact tests on roads with a speed limit of 50mph which have no barrier protection has been encouraged since the introduction of European legislation EN12767. In line with these regulations, EPL first began a joint development agreement with 3M in 2006 before being taken up by FSP
The original design, development and prototyping conducted by EPL proved to be costly, with testing alone estimated to be £160,000. This high expenditure combined with the lack of appropriate design tools, limited the potential growth of FSP and its ongoing product development.
The successful developing of modeling technology in addition to more efficient testing methods are now in place following a winning research and development collaborative funding tender alongside the University of Nottingham. The funding was secured by Transport iNet, which is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme.
After completing its primary objective of finding a more efficient development process, EPL is now developing and expanding the output technology through a KTP associate programme with the University of Nottingham.
John Frodsham, Transport iNet Director, added: “The product developments discovered during this collaboration are not only crucial for meeting European Passive Safety standards but are applicable for a range of other composite impact uses. This innovation will have a positive impact on the safety of all road users whilst the design guide created by EPL will be a valuable resource for SMEs looking to also improve product development efficiency and competitiveness.”
Nigel Finney, Senior Engineer at EPL, said: “We have a good working relationship with the University of Nottingham, so we knew this project would end in a solution to stream lining the original development and testing process. They were the ideal partners to help us progress the computational modeling technology to a level that would reduce the cost and time spent during future developments.
“The funding and support EPL received from Transport iNet played an important role in bringing together SMEs for a fast and efficient collaboration. The project couldn’t have gone ahead without this support and a vacancy for a full time engineer has been created as a result.”
Nigel Finney, Senior Engineer at EPL