June marked 10 years since Victrex opened its Asia Innovation and Technology Centre (AITC) in Shanghai, a move that has brought the company and its customers together in close collaboration on product development. The successful approach of the AITC includes cooperative fast prototyping as well as design and process optimisation. Centred on PAEK-based solutions such as Victrex(tm) Peek polymers, Aptiv(tm) films and Vicote(tm) coatings, Victrex is supporting customers in shaping future performance at a rapid pace.
Set in one of the world’s most dynamic hubs for high-technology advancement, Victrex’s AITC has, for the past 10 years, been driving design concepts to fruition by working with customers on analytical tests, design optimisation, prototyping and product testing. Throughout this entire journey, Victrex’s years of acquired expertise in PAEK polymer production and processing have been applied on complex design challenges in a way that marks Victrex as a competent partner for high-performance polymer solutions.
“The Shanghai AITC has delivered performance benefits for customers”, noted Raymond Cai, head of technical service, AITC Shanghai. “Drawing on a superb pool of professional talent, where each team member has, on average, more than 10 years of service experience in the plastics industry, the AITC has provided a stream of locally-generated, locally-specific solutions while leveraging Victrex’s global resources”.
Victrex, an innovative world leader in high-performance polymer solutions and the first in commercializing PEEK, draws on more than 35 years of experience in high-performing PAEK polymers with two further technology centers, one in the UK and one in Japan, in addition to the AITC in China, working with customers across numerous industry sectors.
The AITC’s strength is in providing analytical services in its state-of-the-art laboratories, enabling customers to generate comparison data and select the appropriate materials for their products. While the AITC provides various types of formal technical training sessions, both internally and externally, it functions as a ‘technical window’ on the Asia Pacific region.
“On the one hand, the AITC collects feedback from customers, spelling out what they want from us, and on the other, it allows us to introduce new technologies and solutions to China and the region. An invaluable strategic resource, the AITC signifies, at the 10-year mark, our absolute commitment to our customers in China and the Asia Pacific region generally”, noted Tim Cooper, executive director, Victrex plc. Importantly, through the AITC facility, Victrex has a streamlined method of identifying root cause issues and providing solutions for challenges faced by customers in China and the region.
To accelerate the development of applications and get designs over the finish line, the AITC team provides Victrex customers in the region with complete technology support. In the field of consumer electronics for example, the AITC’s prototyping skills are enabling customers to achieve a three to four times faster turnaround for speaker diaphragms, compared to the normal lead time. Accelerating the R&D cycle can provide customers with a distinct competitive advantage.
The AITC also assists in the development of solutions in the automotive or aerospace sectors, such as optimising the design of aerospace brackets where the goal is to reduce weight while maintaining the equivalent level of strength and performance by replacing metal. These benefits can lead to improved fuel efficiency and total system cost reductions for the end-user.
In tooling and process optimisation, Victrex’s technology centre has developed compression technology in-house and is able to share that newly acquired expertise with customers. Since the AITC opened in Shanghai in 2006, as a 2000-square-metre facility built at a cost of $2.5 million, the center has itself undergone dynamic growth and development, opening a Film and Coating Lab, and constantly adding new technology competency to support customer both in Asia and worldwide. (Victrex/Business World Magazine)