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Greater Manchester leading the way on lightweight manufacturing

As the home of graphene, the centre of Europe’s largest aerospace cluster and over 300 automotive sector firms, Greater Manchester is becoming recognised as a global hub for lightweight materials.

Global demand for lightweight materials and structures - including light alloys, graphene, 2D materials, technical textiles, coatings and materials for demanding environments - is growing rapidly. The market is expected to be worth £138 billion by 2021, according to the Department of International Trade.

Demand is being driven particularly by the transport sector, where lightweighting is vital to the development of electric vehicles and low emission travel - a key pillar of the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Greater Manchester’s reputation in this area is cemented by its position as the birthplace of ‘wonder material’ graphene, which was discovered by Manchester scientists in 2004. Several spin-off companies have been established since, with the National Graphene Institute now partnering with more than 80 companies to develop and commercialise the technology.

The city region is also the heart of the North West aerospace and automotive clusters, where lightweight materials are expected to be worth more than £18 billion and £13 billion respectively by 2022.

As a result, Greater Manchester is now being promoted by UK government as an ideal investment location for lightweight structures and materials, in the hope that it will become the global hub for the burgeoning industry.

Global leaders that already have an established a footprint in the region include high precision components manufacturer Precision Technologies Group (PTG) and advanced material technology group Luxfer MEL - both members of Business Growth Hub’s Manufacturing Champions.

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