NCC at COMPIC 2017

On Tuesday 31st January 2017, Neil Appleton, Market Development Lead at the National Composites Centre, attended the Composites in Construction conference in Amsterdam. The event had an attendance of around 100 industry figures including clients, designers and suppliers.

Great interest was shown in the opportunity for the roll-out of 5G networks with the project spend on 5G likely to be around €160bn. These networks will require a high density of antennae to facilitate the trend towards smart cities, exemplified by driverless cars. An interesting solution for antennae could be deployment within radio transparent composite street lighting poles.

A strong opportunity was discussed for the UK rail sector too. A key driver for rail is to reduce the number of unmanned pedestrian crossings, owing to the hazard to the public; in many instances this is best solved with a footbridge. Composites are an ideal solution due to the competitive installed cost afforded by their lightweight nature, and there are further reduced through life costs by removal of the need for painting and the associated works required. This also avoids hazards to the workforce undertaking painting.

A number of semi-structural facades were presented at the show, demonstrating the gradual uptake of composites as a useful material to Architects through the forms and finishes available, and to Contractors due to the reduced installed cost and programme afforded by their lightweight properties. Very low carbon footprint biocomposites continue to intrigue the industry with a substantial lifting bridge being proposed, possibly using cellulose fibres and a pilot project is underway to assess facade panels from flax fibres in a bioresin matrix with cork slab insulation.

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