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Developing new polymer products and processes with small companies: the NEPPCO enterprise

June 10th, 1997

Paper to the Polymer Processing Society 13th Annual Meeting, Secaucus, New Jersey, USA, 10th-13th June 1997, paper 12-01.

S F Bush


NEPPCO stands for the North of England Polymer Processing Consortium. It was founded in 1990 by the writer and a number of industrialists, most of whom continue to be associated with the enterprise. At present there are around 70 member companies spanning all the main functions and processes involved in the polymer industry.

Besides UMIST Polymer Engineering itself, the membership includes: designers with state of the art CAD facilities, rapid prototypers, low cost mould makers, production tool makers, polymer and resin manufacturers, about 80,000 tonnes per annum compounding capacity, and the full range of polymer processes: injection, roto, blow and compression moulding, extrusion and thermoforming.

There are about 4000 employees in the consortium companies which have an aggregate turnover of about £250 million per annum. With only a few exceptions, all the member companies fall into the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) category which is defined in British terms as meaning companies having fewer than 500 employees.

Reason and Purpose

There were three original reasons for founding the consortium and these remain, in the UK at least, valid today: (i) the low levels of research carried out by the polymer processors; (ii) the low levels of product innovation; (iii) the low level of the graduate engineer/scientist population in the processing sector.

The purpose of the consortium was, and is, to put the future of the polymer processing sector on a more secure basis by creating a common research and development function devoted to pulling through into commercial production new products and processes. In doing so the enterprise will determine what problems actually need to be solved, so helping to secure the future of polymer engineering research itself.