Onwards and upwards


An increasing focus on its aerospace capabilities sees Norco Composites reaching for the skies in terms of investing in equipment and facilities to satisfy strict aerospace demands. Composites in Manufacturing reports.

Norco Composites, a division of Norco Holdings, has significantly invested recently in facilities to expand its capability in supplying composite tooling and parts to the aerospace sector.

Norco has redeveloped one of its three existing production units, with the addition of an autoclave and environmentally-controlled room, designed to increase the range and improve the quality of composite parts that can be manufactured. This has also created a bespoke facility for manufacturing components for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Norco has been instrumental in the production of flight simulators for two leading industry OEMs. The company’s capability to produce large accurate structures using a combination of vacuum infusion and prepreg processes attracted the customers in the first place, and subsequent revisions and ongoing development to reduce weight and improve tooling accuracy has resulted in Norco producing over 30 simulators.

Norco’s increased involvement in manufacturing UAVs is reflective of the company’s commitment towards the aerospace sector, and the requirement from OEMs for the significant benefits composite manufacturing can offer. Norco has worked extensively with an unnamed customer, utilising its design-for-manufacture capability to interpret and deliver accurate solutions, in addition to a rapid response time to customer design requirements.

Working closely with the customer’s design engineers, Norco has been able to assist in tool design and manufacturing techniques in order to turn the client’s requirements into manufactured parts. This has been complemented by working through an extensive R&D programme which has looked at new concept design, weight reduction, manufacturing improvements of speed and quality as well as optimising materials used in the build of parts. All this was achieved whilst continuing to meet tight time scales and ever-increasing quality requirements. A rigorous continuous improvement process has been put in place to cope with the fast-paced development of the R&D, resulting in a quick turnaround of new concept parts and designs.

<Tomorrow’s engineers today>

Alongside its established apprenticeship scheme, Norco has also recently recruited four graduate trainees, with skills in advanced aerospace engineering, aeronautical engineering, and marine composites technology. The graduates have been integrated into the manufacturing teams at Norco to gain valuable hands on experience to complement the knowledge gained in their studies.

Norco’s work on UAVs has also resulted in a step change in its quality processes and procedures. With the addition of new quality engineers, and equipment such as surface roughness testing kits and measuring sensors, Norco now carries out risk analysis, contract and drawing reviews, traceability, goods inwards monitoring and component scanning, on a par with the very best standards in the industry. In addition to ISO 9001, Norco has customer approvals from leading aerospace OEMs including Cobham and Airbus Defence and Space.

The medium-term growth predictions for the aerospace sector, and the sustainable benefits of composite production, will result in increasing opportunities for composite manufacturers and Norco Composites says it is ideally placed to take advantage of these in the next few years.



Norco Group

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