A WINCHAM firm has placed itself at the forefront of the carbon fibre industry through a partnership with the University of Manchester.

Specialist machinery manufacturer Cygnet Texkimp, based in Wincham Lane, has created a cutting-edge machine to support the next generation of fuel-efficient cars and aeroplanes.

The 3D Winder is the world's first robotic winding machine capable of laying carbon fibre to make complex, lightweight composite parts for industry.

Luke Vardy, managing director of Cygnet Texkimp, said: "The 3D Winder revolutionises what the composites industry can achieve with winding.

"It offers benefits in terms of cost and speed of manufacture as well as the strength, uniformity and repeatability of the finished product.

"There is nothing else like it on the market at the moment. It is the first machine of its kind."

The 3D Winder builds on a prototype from the university’s School of Materials. Through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), Cygnet Texkimp has developed this technology to work with more complex and curved shapes.

The machine uses a technique called filament winding to create complex components such as fuel pipes and aircraft wing spars.

It does so cost-effectively, in high volumes and at high speeds.

Luke said: "Partnering with the university enabled us to carry out extensive research into advanced filament winding techniques.

"It laid the groundwork for us to develop a new filament winding product stream more quickly than we otherwise would, to be first to market with an innovative new product."

Since its rollout last year, the 3D Winder has been recognised through industry awards and is now in advance international trials, including with one of the world’s leading automotive wheel manufacturers.

Luke said: "We’re on the threshold of a new generation of lightweight, fuel-efficient cars and aeroplanes.

"Demand for greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions is driving the need for better ways of producing and using intelligent materials such as carbon fibre composites.

"Our long-term objective is to see this technology adopted as a conventional way to produce composite parts throughout the world."