M&I Materials has been manufacturing specialist products for science and industry for over a century. The company employs over 180 people at its Trafford factory, and exports to over 60 countries.
One of M&I Materials’ key products are varistor ceramic disks, which are used in power systems to protect against electrical surges.
Technical director Amanda Quadling explains: “As part of our ongoing process of improvement, we wanted to gain a better understanding of the science behind the manufacturing process.
“We wanted to find out more about how the products behaved under a range of different firing temperatures and times, and whether the processes could be improved.”
GC Business Growth Hub’s innovation team introduced the company to its Innovation Vouchers scheme, enabling SMEs to apply for funding they can use to access specialist facilities at Greater Manchester’s universities and recognised research organisations.
The company began collaborating with experts at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), who used special electron microscopes to analyse and scan the disks at an extremely detailed, crystalline level. This revealed more about their structure and how their performance characteristics varied across a range of different manufacturing conditions.
“As a result of the tests we have been able to optimise and refine our processes and introduce new innovations to reduce costs, improve predictability and deliver improved customer service,” says Amanda.
“Without the input from the innovation team, and the work with MMU, we would never have achieved the same depth of understanding.”
The company have previously worked with The Growth Company through its Greater Manchester Export Fund, which helped to finance a new production line at its Trafford facility, significantly increasing the capacity to manufacture MIDEL, its world leading ester transformer fluid.
The business is now set to use the voucher system to work on a further university collaboration, this time investigating the topical area of battery technology, electric vehicles and charging points.
Richard Jeffery, director of growth at the Hub (pictured above with some of the M&I team), said: “I’d really encourage businesses who want to gain a competitive edge and accelerate the development of innovative products and services to apply for this funding from GC Business Growth Hub. Take advantage and harness the expert knowledge and facilities we’re blessed with in Greater Manchester.”
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