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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 this link and see for page 22 for PPRC article.

Please Click for the Aticle: Belfast Telegraph promoting STEM careers


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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.

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.


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PPRC signs MOU for research cooperation with AMBER

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:

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A Rotomoulding Revolution: Rotocooler®

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:

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Green Impact Silver Award for PPRC

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:

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May 2014 edition of the PPRC Newsletter

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.


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PPRC Visit to ISPA March 2014

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.

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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).

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.

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September 2013 edition of the PPRC Newsletter

Welcome to this September 2013 edition of the PPRC Newsletter which features some of the EU funded projects in which the Centre has been involved.

Click Here to Download a Copy.

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Green Impact Award for PPRC

Building on last year's success in gaining a Bronze award, PPRC earned a Silver Award in the national environmental accreditation and award scheme run by the National Union of Students.

Working across UK students’ unions, universities and colleges and community organisations, Green Impact supports departments to make simple, tangible and powerful changes in behaviour and policy.  From recycling, to investing in more efficient equipment, to encouraging biodiversity, or Fairtrade, the various criteria cover a broad range of issues under the sustainability umbrella.

Photograph shows some of the 48 QUB award winners including William Courtney (middle row, 5th from left) who received the award on behalf of PPRC.

For further details of the scheme visit:

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PPRC Rotational Moulders to speak at forthcoming Lightweight Vehicles Conference
PPRC Rotational Moulders have been invited to speak at the forthcoming Lightweight Vehicles Conference in October on the Total Car Concept which has been developed in conjunction with QUB.   The car is a groundbreaking demonstration vehicle with a body made from two rotational moulded plastic parts and weighing just 85kg.  Full details of the Conference including details of the Total and Queens University's session are available here.

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Guest Lecture visits The Advanced Materials and Processing Research Cluster.

Guest Lecture: The Advanced Materials and Processing Research Cluster look forward to a visit from Prof. Graham Cross from the CRANN Institute, Trinity College Dublin, on 28th February 2013.  During the visit, Prof. Cross will tour the extensive processing and material characterisation facilities in PPRC and give a lecture on the subject of 'Polymer Deformation During Nanostructure Fabrication by Mechanical Processing' to staff and students in the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering.

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Staff Awarded Diploma in Packaging Technology

Dr Paula Douglas - Research Fellow, Mr Graham Garrett - Technician

Dr Paula Douglas, Research Fellow, and Mr Graham Garrett,Technician, were recently awarded A Diploma in Packaging Technology at theCollege of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise in Loughry.  Along with Mr Alan Clarke, Extrusion Manger,this brings the number of Diploma holders amongst PPRC staff to three.

The Diploma, which is internationally recognised, isvalidated by the Packaging Industry Awarding Body Company (PiABC), theprofessional body for packaging and related industries and covers all aspectsof packaging technology including design and development across a range ofmaterials (metal, glass, paper & board and plastics) as well closures,quality control and the environmental aspects of packaging.

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PPRC Helps Educate Designers

Dr Mark McCourt Speaking at the Design and Innovation in Rotational Moulding Seminar

The Rotational Moulding Group of the British Plastics Federation hosted its annual ‘Design and Innovation in Rotational Moulding’ Seminar on the afternoon of the 30th May 2012 at the London Excel Exhibition Centre.  The seminar presented a case for the versatile nature of the rotational moulding process to manufacturers, designers and suppliers.

The medium was a series of case studies helping to educate designers on what can be achieved through the rotational moulding process. These examined a variety of products including a portable hand wash system and a road traffic safety sign.

The Group was also joined by Dr. Mark McCourt of Queens University Belfast who gave a detailed overview of the industry, Dr Nick Henwood of Rotomotive Limited who spoke about the challenges and opportunities that can be achieved through different rotational moulding materials and Hans Petersen of Creactive Design who presented a case study from a designer’s perspective.

The Seminar took place at this year’s PDM exhibition which is the only dedicated design and moulding event in the UK and it is the place for plastics and design professionals to network, learn and be inspired.

Karen Drinkwater, Chair of the BPF Rotational Moulders Group said 'We have been delighted with the response to the rotational moulding seminar at PDM.  The wide range of presentations given by our group members really engaged the audience and raised the profile of the rotational moulding sector with those designers present.  Increasing the understanding of the process can only be beneficial to the growth of the industry as a whole.'

Jonathan Bloom, Senior Executive at the BPF stated on the day ’there is a host of information on the rotational moulding process and the Group members that can be found on the Group website

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Former Prime Minister of New Zealand visits PPRC

(Left to Right) Mrs Renee Crawford, Prof. Roy Crawford, Mr Jim Bolger, Mrs Joan Bolger, Mr Mark Kearns, Dr Tony McNally

The PPRC played host to some international visitors in early April as former Director and current Vice-Chancellor of the University of Waikato, New Zealand, Prof Roy Crawford, showed University of Waikato Chancellor, Mr Jim Bolger, around the polymer research facilities on offer at Queens.  Mr Jim Bolger was the Prime Minister of New Zealand for 8 years and New Zealand Ambassador to USA for 4 years.  

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Contact Information

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

Tel: 028 90974700
Fax: 028 90660631

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