The International Composites Summit (ICS) will return on 6-7 September 2023 at the Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes, UK. The show has been developed by Composites UK – the trade association for the UK composites industry – and Fluency – a marketing agency specialising in the advanced materials field – two organisations who understand the composites industry well and know how to bring the right people together.

Almost 50,000 people are employed in the UK composites industry generating a turnover of £10.72billion – that’s a high value adding contribution to the UK economy, at approximately £225,000 of value per employee. There are huge opportunities for composites across all sectors with virtually no limits for innovation. This is why ICS was developed, as it provides crucial platforms for industry to come together to share ideas, aspirations and build valuable contacts.

Demand for composites

Composite materials have been used in aerospace in applications such as engine blades, brackets, interiors, nacelles, propellers/rotors, single aisle wings and wide body wings for a long time. Due to their lightweight properties, the demand for composites in aerospace is continually increasing, with more companies in the composites supply chain supplying, or wanting to supply, into the sector. ICS is a vehicle to allow business collaborations to happen.

The event also focusses on net-zero, as composites have a significant role to play in meeting the net-zero targets both in the UK and globally. Not surprisingly, there is a huge amount of work happening in the UK composites industry to address the sustainability challenge where there is recognition that this is not a sector specific issue and that collaboration across sectors will ensure net-zero targets are met sooner, rather than later. The waste from one sector could become the feedstock for another and considerable research is currently being done to recover fibre and resin in reusable formats.

The International Composites Summit promotes and actively encourages alliances, particularly through its free-to-attend forum sessions with presentations from organisations such as the ADS Group, GKN Aerospace, the Aerospace Technology Institute, Airbus, Vertical Aerospace, Leonardo Helicopters, and the Composites Leadership Forum with its working groups to talk about not only lightweighting but the need for circularity – what happens to the composite part at the end of its journey?

For example, putting composite materials into the ground, or burning them at their initial ‘end-of-life’ is not only detrimental to the environment, but also the opportunities for composites components do not necessarily end once it reaches the end of its first use and it may still be a high value piece of material. An aerospace part that has been in use for 20-30 years, could be repurposed into another product, perhaps even for use in another sector, and used for a further 20-30 years and so on. This can only happen through an industry coming together, sharing ideas, innovation and technology, which is one of the main areas of focus for the International Composites Summit.

International approach

An international approach to collaboration can be made as well as cross sectoral. In Europe and America, composites play a key part in their advanced materials strategy, but there is work to be done within the UK at a strategic Government level to ensure composites (and advanced materials in general) are recognised with similar importance. Composites UK is working with the Composites Leadership Forum to address this issue.

The International Composites Summit moves to Milton Keynes’ Marshall Arena in 2023, doubling the size of the floorspace or accommodate demand for more, and larger stands. The show however keeps its roots for smaller companies, offering the bespoke 1m ‘pod’ stands as an accessible way to exhibit on less resource.

The new venue is conveniently located in the middle of the UK, with international airports like London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Birmingham International within easy reach. Tickets are free-of-charge and can be booked via the website for one, or both days of the exhibition.

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