Skip to main content


New Robotic Rotational Moulding Machine Arrives at the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Queens.

The School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering has recently installed a new state of the art, robot based rotational moulding machine. Named ‘Robomould’ the installation is the result of a collaboration between QUB, French multi-national ‘Total’ (and its research centre based in Feluy, Belgium) and Automation & Manufacturing Services (AMS) also based in Belgium.

Queens Academics along with colleagues based in the Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC), will work on the development and optimisation of this unique, rotomoulding technology. Using state of the art computer simulation models and sophisticated process monitoring techniques, this automated polymer processing technology will be tested and improved over the next 18 months. 

The PPRC is recognised as a centre of excellence for the global rotational moulding industry where they have contributed to a number of world leading technical developments in the area. Researchers in QUB developed the first commercial process control system (Rotolog) and simulation software (RotoSim) for the Rotomoulding Industry and there has also been recent commercialisation of a new energy-saving system, the Rotocooler. The fundamental understanding of the rotomoulding process that was developed at QUB also enabled the moulding of new materials for new application areas, notably motorcycle fuel tanks which are now in use by BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson and Honda.

For more information contact Mark Kearns at:  

Top of Page

Advanced Sensors for Polymer Processing Workshop
Bio-polytec Logo

The Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC) on behalf of the Bio-PolyTec project consortium invite you to a FREE half-day workshop on Real-Time monitoring of Polymer Degradation and Additive dispersion during Processing. The workshop will introduce novel, fibre-optic based sensors capable of monitoring physio-chemical changes in polymers and compounds in real-time during processing. Variation in the agglomeration/dispersion of filler particles or the degradation of biodegradable polymers can be critical issues for many high-performance products but require expensive and time-consuming laboratory analysis to detect. Learn how this can be done in-process in real-time. The workshop will cover:

  • Industry leaders discuss issues in the manufacturing of high performance polymer products
  • Recent developments in using process spectroscopy and fibre optic probes to detect degradation of PLA during extrusion
  • Recent developments in using process spectroscopy and fibre optic probes to detect agglomeration of filler products during compounding
  • Hands-on demo of sensor system
  • Details on funding opportunities for investigation of the application of the technology to your business

Date and Time: 10:45-13:30 on Thursday 26th November (Lunch Provided)

Location: Polymer Processing Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast

To confirm your attendance please visit the eventbrite page

For more information on the Bio-PolyTec project please visit:

Project Partners:






We hope you can make it.

Top of Page

Rotational Moulding Hands-On Training Seminar
Course Attendees.

Mr Mark Kearns (Moulding manager), Dr Paul Hanna and Dr Mark McCourt (Process engineers) from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering’s Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC) recently delivered a Rotational Moulding Hands-On Training Seminar to a large group of industrialists from across the UK, Ireland, Europe (Italy, Germany) and India.  The delegates attending the training course were given the opportunity to put theory into practice by using QUB’s industrial scale Ferry Rotospeed rotational moulding machine.

Topics covered included:

  • Fundamentals of the process and award-winning products from around the world.
  • In-depth study on the anatomy of the moulding cycle, heating/cooling mechanisms, science behind bubble and pin-hole removal.
  • Types of rotational moulding machinery and moulds available to industry.
  • Colour blending methods and control of shrinkage/warpage.
  • Hands-on demonstrations of in-mould pressurisation, process monitoring, powder grinding, quality and in-mould cooling.
  • New materials and development trends for the industry.

For further information please contact Mr Mark Kearns (

Top of Page

Former QUB Professor Honoured by Queen
Professor Roy Crawford
Professor Roy Crawford

Professor Roy Crawford moved from Northern Ireland to New Zealand ten years ago.

He has just received one of the highest honours in New Zealand, a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his work in tertiary education.

Professor Crawford who now lives in Sunnyhills in East Auckland, was the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Waikato from 2005-2015.  He retired recently and is currently undertaking consultancy work on a part-time basis.

During his tenure at the University of Waikato, Professor Crawford’s key achievements included leading the University to be one of the top 50 in the world, implementing a research excellence agenda that significantly improved the University’s research capability, modernising the campus, and continuing a tradition of innovation. Recent reports showed that the University of Waikato contributed almost $1 billion to the local economy.

Before moving to New Zealand, Professor Crawford was Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at Queens University Belfast.  He has published eight books and over 300 papers and has been a member of numerous government panels and research grant committees in the UK and New Zealand.

His particular expertise is associated with the rotational moulding of plastics.  He is widely recognised as a world leader in this field and has given keynote lectures, courses and seminars on this subject all over the world. Professor Crawford is the Technical Editor for RotoWorld® magazine, the magazine for the rotational molding & plastics design industries, a position he has held since the magazine’s inception in 2005.

For further information:

Top of Page

May 2015 edition of the PPRC Newsletter
Newsletter Cover

Welcome to this May 2015 edition of the PPRC Newsletter which provides information on a range of training courses provided by the Centre.

Please click to download a copy: PPRC Newsletter 3 May 2015

Top of Page

Great Britain Rototour 2015 - 6-15 September 2015
Rototour Logo

The Polymer Processing Research Centre in the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at Queen’s University Belfast looks forward to hosting Rototour (!rotoplas/c1hzl) in September 2015, an annual event organised by the Association of Rotational Moulders Australasia (ARMA) which is coming to the United Kingdom for the first time since the inaugural tour to China in 2005.

During the Northern Ireland stage of the tour, delegates from Australia, Brazil, China, Finland, Kazakhstan, the Philippines and USA will visit PPRC’s material processing and characterisation laboratories.  They will also participate in technical discussions and demonstrations led by PPRC in association with Total Petrochemicals, a long-term industrial partner of the Centre supplying polymeric raw materials to processors across the world for a wide range of industrial and household products.

Commenting on the visit scheduled to take place in September, PPRC Moulding Manager, Mark Kearns, said “As a leading centre for R&D in materials processing with over 25 years’ experience in rotational moulding, we are delighted that PPRC has been chosen as a destination on the 2015 Rototour.  We work with industrial and academic partners across the world and look forward to show casing and providing insight into the innovative work being undertaken at Queen’s University Belfast.”

PPRC Director, Dr Nicholas Dunne, said "it is a great honour for the PPRC and Queen's University of Belfast to host the Association of Rotational Moulders Australasia during their Rototour- not only does it provide an opportunity to showcase our world-leading , translationary research that we are conducting in rotational moulding, but also engage with leading international companies that consider innovation as a key component in technological advancement of the rotational moulding business".

Top of Page

Connected Newsletter Summer 2015
Newsletter Cover

Welcome to the latest edition of the Connected Newsletter to share with you our experience of the Connected project.

Click the link to download a copy: Connected Summer Newletter 2015



Top of Page

PPRC is pleased to support the South Belfast Food Bank
Food bank Picture

PPRC is pleased to support the South Belfast Food Bank ( and recently made its first donation of food and other essential items collected by the PPRC Staff.  A partnership of several organisations, the South Belfast Food Bank, is working to fight poverty in our community with the vision that people of all backgrounds should be included and have the opportunity to live life to the full by developing, running and enabling communities to replicate sustainable projects that combat poverty and exclusion.

Top of Page

Practical Hands-On Seminar in Injection Moulding
Moulding Machine

Dr Paul Hanna from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering’s Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC), along with colleagues Dr Bronagh Millar and Dr Paula Douglas, recently delivered a bespoke Practical Hands-On Seminar in Injection Moulding to award-winning local company Environmental Products and Services.  The delegates attending the training course were given the opportunity to put theory into practice by using an Arburg 50 tonne injection moulding machine.  Topics covered included:

  • analysing flow behaviour of plastics and their influence on injection moulding
  • setting up of mould and injection unit
  • setting process parameters and cycle optimisation
  • trouble-shooting and analysis of common faults
  • mechanical testing and material characterisation

Nick Loughrey, Engineering Manager at EPAS Ltd. commented that the course was “first class, informative; staff to be commended”. 

For further information please contact Dr Paul Hanna (

Top of Page

PPRC Promotion of STEM Careers in the Polymer Industry

PPRC is pleased to have contributed to a recent supplement in the Belfast Telegraph promoting STEM careers.  For a copy of the publication please follow the link and see page 22 for PPRC article.

Please Click for the Article: Belfast Telegraph promoting STEM careers


Top of Page

SERC & NIT Toyama visit to QUB
Professor Mark Price (centre) welcomes visitors from National Institute of Technology, Toyama and SERC to the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering.
Professor Mark Price (centre) welcomes visitors from National Institute of Technology, Toyama and SERC to the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering.
Back row from left: Mr David Milford (SERC Lecturer and Japanese visit co-ordinator) Dr Bronagh Millar (PPRC Characterisation Manager), Dr Paul Hanna (PPRC Process Engineer), Mr Alan Clarke (PPRC Extrusion Manager) and Mrs Denise Price (PPRC Business Manager) with students visiting from Toyama, Maizuru and Toyota Colleges.
Back row from left: Mr David Milford (SERC Lecturer and Japanese visit co-ordinator) Dr Bronagh Millar (PPRC Characterisation Manager), Dr Paul Hanna (PPRC Process Engineer), Mr Alan Clarke (PPRC Extrusion Manager) and Mrs Denise Price (PPRC Business Manager) with students visiting from Toyama, Maizuru and Toyota Colleges.

Building on the Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC) relationship with South Eastern Regional College (SERC) being developed through the DEL Funded ConnectEd Programme, the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering in Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) was pleased to host a guest lecture given by Professor Sotomi Ishihara, President of the National Institute of Technology, Toyama, Visiting Principal Lecturer in SERC and Professor Emeritus of Toyama University, on 9th September 2014.

The lecture was introduced by Dr Nicholas Dunne, Director of the Advanced Materials & Processing Research Cluster and Director of PPRC for which staff and researchers from QUB & SERC were joined by students of SERC on Mechanical Engineering HND and Foundation Degree to hear Professor Ishihara speak on the topic of “A Study on Fatigue Lifetime of the Forging Die.

Also in attendance were students from National Institutes of Technology, Toyama and Maizuru and Toyota Colleges in Japan on a study programme in learning and using English in a technical context with SERC.

The lecture concluded with a Questions and Answers session and vote of thanks given by Professor Mark Price, Head of School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, on behalf of QUB.

Later that same week, the Japanese students returned to QUB Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering for a tour of PPRC and demonstrations of the Centre’s extrusion and moulding equipment and material characterisation facilities led by Alan Clarke, Paul Hanna and Bronagh Millar respectively.


Top of Page

PPRC signs MOU for research cooperation with AMBER
Back row from left: Mr David Milford (SERC Lecturer and Japanese visit co-ordinator) Dr Bronagh Millar (PPRC Characterisation Manager), Dr Paul Hanna (PPRC Process Engineer), Mr Alan Clarke (PPRC Extrusion Manager) and Mrs Denise Price (PPRC Business Manager) with students visiting from Toyama, Maizuru and Toyota Colleges.
Dr Nicholas Dunne, Director of PPRC and Director of Advanced Materials and Processing Research Cluster & Professor Stefano Sanvito, Investigator Amber Centre Trinity College Dublin

The PPRC and AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre based at Trinity College Dublin have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that outlines key terms for research cooperation.  

The MoU recognises that AMBER and PPRC have complementary expertise and capabilities in areas of research related to advanced materials such as processing of nanocomposites and characterisation of nanomaterials. 

The Memorandum will see both institutions working closely with industrial partners on collaborative research projects that exploit the materials development expertise in AMBER and the polymer processing expertise in PPRC. These research projects will focus largely on the development, modification and characterisation of polymer and composite materials, and will also establish ways to transfer these to industry. Applications can be found in broad fields of use but particularly for packaging films, medical device sectors, and composite materials for the automotive industry.

Furthermore, the partnership will enable AMBER and Queen’s University to benefit from funding opportunities in Ireland, Northern Ireland, UK and the EU. This will enable them to work together on innovative research projects from early stage fundamental research right through to prototyping and scale-up particularly for medical device, automotive and industrial applications.

Dr Ramesh Babu, Investigator with AMBER and Trinity College Dublin’s School of Physics who is a lead researcher in these fields, said: “The signing of the MoU is another step forward for AMBER in its goal to forge strong links with the best in academia and research. We look forward to working more closely with The Queen’s University of Belfast through conducting joint research projects as well as exchanging researchers and sharing expertise on advanced materials and processing.  The partnership aims to grow those collaborations and to take advantage of the excellent research that is being conducted in both institutions.”  “I am sure that the collaboration will lead to some exciting opportunities for both institutions and that industry will benefit from the pooling of our extensive knowledge and our high-tech research facilities.”

Dr Nicholas Dunne, Director of Polymer Processing Research Centre and Director of Advanced Materials and Processing Research Cluster at The Queen’s University of Belfast, said: “The PPRC has a world-renowned reputation for the high quality of their translational research capability in Polymer Processing. The signing of a memorandum of understanding between PPRC in Queen’s and AMBER of Trinity College Dublin creates an exciting platform to drive increased collaboration and commercialisation of our research base for the benefit of the local and national economies.”

 “This is a very significant partnership that will ensure that the quality of our research continues to be of the highest international standard. It will provide substantial opportunities to lever financial investment from major Irish and UK funding bodies and it will also allow us to share models for achieving timely technology transfer and commercialisation.”

 “By combining the strengths of both AMBER and the PPRC, it will bring about significant synergies that will ensure our collaborative leadership in Advanced Materials and Processing from research activities through to commercialisation.”


AMBER (Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research) is a Science Foundation Ireland funded centre which provides a partnership between leading researchers in material science and industry to develop new materials and devices for a range of sectors, particularly the ICT, medical devices and industrial technology sectors. The centre is hosted in Trinity College Dublin, working in collaboration with CRANN (Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices), the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering and with University College Cork and the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.

To find out more about the Amber Centre at Trinity College Dublin, please click here:

Top of Page

A Rotomoulding Revolution: Rotocooler®
Rotocooler® Cover

For more than 30 years, Queen’s University, Belfast (QUB) has been internationally renowned for its innovative research into the rotational moulding of plastics. Most recently QUB has finalised a License Agreement with Maus GmbH, Germany for a ‘Rotocooler’ internal water spray cooling device. The Rotocooler® Device has been in development in various guises at QUB for more than 10 years and is a new technology developed and aimed specifically at speeding up the manufacturing times of rotationally moulded products such as water and oil storage tanks. For too long, critics of the rotational moulding process point to its long cycle times required to produce a plastic part, as opposed to other processes such as injection moulding or blow moulding. For too long, the rotational moulding process has suffered from long production times due to the long cooling times.

Click link for full details:

Top of Page

Green Impact Silver Award for PPRC
Green Impact Silver Award

PPRC is proud to have retained its Silver Award in the Green Impact Scheme,  the national environmental accreditation and award scheme run by the National Union of Students.

For further information on the Scheme, which supports departments in making tangible and powerful changes in behaviour and policy in terms of sustainability, please visit:

Top of Page

May 2014 edition of the PPRC Newsletter
Newsletter Cover

Welcome to this May 2014 edition of the PPRC Newsletter which provides information on support for Technology Transfer and some Projects in which the Centre is involved.

Click Here to Download A Copy.


Top of Page

PPRC Visit to ISPA March 2014
PPRC Visit to ISPA
PPRC Visit to ISPA

PPRC Process Engineers Dr Paul Hanna and Mr Mark Billham were invited by the Higher Institute of Plastics, Alencon (ISPA) in France to lecture on the current state of the art in Rotational Moulding and Multi-layer Extrusion respectively.  The lectures were attended by over fifty Polymer Engineering Bachelors/Masters degree students as well as ISPA staff.  Internationally leading research conducted at the PPRC, including its impact on wider society, was also showcased during the presentations.

Following tours of ISPAs facilities, discussions were held on current and potential areas for research collaboration, during which ISPA were keen to establish a joint PhD programme of study.

Top of Page

Launch of Bio-PolyTec EU FP7 Research Project
Left to Right: Mr Joe Molloy (IPC Polymers), Mr Mark Billham (PPRC), Dr Marion McAfee (IT Sligo).
Left to Right: Mr Joe Molloy (IPC Polymers), Mr Mark Billham (PPRC), Dr Marion McAfee (IT Sligo).

Joe Molloy, Technical Director with IPC polymers, Mark Billham, Research Fellow at the Polymer Precision Research Centre at Queen's University, Belfast and Dr Marion McAfee, of the Department of Mechanical and Electronic Engineering, IT Sligo, demonstrate an artificial knee joint at the launch the €1million Bio-PolyTec EU FP7 research project. The project aims to progress the commercial availability of bioresorbable and drug-eluting medical implants.

Researchers at Queen’s are collaborating on a €1 million EU funded project to pave the way for people to receive better and cheaper medical implants in a more timely manner.

The Queen’s team are based within the Polymer Processing Research Centre (PPRC) located in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The two-year initiative is funded by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (EU FP7) for Research and Technological Development. The project, termed ‘Bio-PolyTec’, targets greater use of bioresorbable polymer materials rather than metals in implants, thereby bringing important benefits for patients and manufacturers.

Professor Fraser Buchanan, who leads the Queen’s team, said: “Bioresorbable polymers are set to play a major role in the future development of implantable medical devices. They are becoming established in a number of key applications ranging from orthopaedic to cardiovascular. Bioresorbable polymers have key advantages over traditional metal implants. They naturally breakdown into non-toxic by-products and are gradually replaced by the patient’s own tissue, leading to improved patient recovery.”

The materials are seeing increasing application in treatment of trauma and sports injuries, including internal bone fixation devices (screws, plates and pins) and reattachment of ruptured ligaments (suture anchors). Furthermore an innovative new product called ‘RegJoint’ is now produced by project partner Scaffdex, for the treatment of osteo and rheumatoid arthritis in the small joints of the hand and foot. Bioresorbable polymers can also incorporate drugs and bioactive additives, which are slowly released as they degrade, broadening applications to pharmaceutical therapies.

Dr Nicholas Dunne, Director of Queen’s PPRC, says that one of main obstacle to wider use of bioresorbable implants for medical applications has been challenges in their manufacture. With the project consortium now having access to the world-class facilities available within the PPRC there is an opportunity for the Bio-PolyTec team to develop novel monitoring and control techniques which will speed up processing methods and significantly reduce scrap-rate of the costly material.

Mark Billham, PPRC Research Fellow on this project, has extensive industrial and collaborative research experience in many areas of polymer extrusion and polymer materials, and will be working in close cooperation with all industrial and academic project partners.

The project partners are from the UK, Finland, Germany and Ireland. They include academics at two universities, including Sligo Institute of Technology, who coordinate the project, and Tampere University, who originally founded the use of bioresorbable implants. Industrialists include biomaterial processors, device manufacturers and specialists in sensor technology.

The other partners in the initiative are:

  • IPC Polymers Ltd (Ireland), a manufacturer of polymer compounds for the medical industry
  • Scaffdex Oy (Finland), which makes bioresorbable tissue scaffolds for treatment of arthritic joints
  • Fos-Messtechnik GmbH (Germany), whichmanufacture sensors for the process industry, particularly optic sensors and related technologies
  • Plasma-Biotal Ltd (UK), who provide bio-active particles for orthopaedic implants.
  • Corbion Purac (Netherlands), a manufacturer of bioresorbable polymer

Media inquiries to QUB Communications Office. Tel: 028 9097 3091.

Top of Page

Contact Information

Polymer Processing Research Centre
Queen's University Belfast
Ashby Building
Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5AH

Tel: 028 90974700
Fax: 028 90660631

Web tools

Bookmark and Share