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World Leading Glass Research, Innovation and Product Developments

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Wednesday 13 August 2014

Independent research and development, consultancy and testing facility, Glass Technology Services Ltd (GTS), looks at world-class developments and knowledge transfer across the glass industryIndependent research and development, consultancy and testing facility, Glass Technology Services Ltd (GTS), looks at world-class developments and knowledge transfer across the glass industry. Robert Ireson, GTS Innovation Team Leader, explains:

Global demand for our specialist knowledge in glass continues to grow and has led to continued expansion at GTS across our product testing, consultancy, innovation, research and development and chemical analysis services for the glass supply chain.

Making extensions of scope to our comprehensive technical UKAS accreditations and undertaking major investment in new plant, equipment, people and training, our testing remit has been extended to include various methods of ICP-OES (inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy) and FTIR (fourier transform infrared spectroscopy).

GTS is also now a Notified Body for glass construction products under the Construction Products Regulation, following recommendation to the EU by the UK government.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Through funding a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the University of Leeds, we’re also further developing our high quality glass melting infrastructure, expanding the range of glasses we can supply to the photonics industry. Funding a separate part-time post-doc secondment from the University of Leeds is enabling us to support other research developments and grant funded projects within the organisation – particularly focusing on specialist glasses for near infrared (NIR) and mid-infrared (MIR) applications.

And when it comes to product innovation, we’re working in partnership with leading manufacturers and universities across Europe, developing new and novel glass compositions, coatings and processing - in many cases helping to take innovations from concept through to product commercialisation.

Innovation Projects

GTS has been awarded nine project grants over the last two years, having a value in excess of £1.6 million, with seven of those from the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board and two funded under the EU’s FP7 framework and Marie Curie IAPP programme.

We’re very keen to develop and participate in new projects and partnerships.  With a grant application success rate of more than 90%, we can offer advice on the variety of funding sources available, from commercial organisations, government bodies and institutions and can assist in the writing of grant proposals.

GTS has an established reputation and global network of academic and commercial partners across a wide range of sectors and is in an ideal position to help pull together world-class consortia of experts to help with any glass-related development.

International clients across a wide range of markets - including architectural, automotive, food and drink, pharmaceutical, technical, defence, photonics and biomedical - are enabling us to work on some exciting, world-class developments, demonstrating the incredible strength and versatility of glass and continually pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved.

A number of our current, cutting-edge, innovation projects are included below and the first of these demonstrates how technology developments made in specialist areas are helping us to bring new technologies, developments and transfer knowledge into the mainstream glass industry.

The Cutting Edge of Glass Technology

GTS, with support from the University of Leeds, is involved in two new projects which are developing novel high speed laser processing techniques for the cutting and shaping of flat glass. If successful the technology will provide a fast, cost effective route to cutting challenging glass substrates. The technologies under development will also look to customise optical properties of glass components at the same time.

Utilising our new laser facility, this project will investigate non-contact laser processing and look to demonstrate the technology as both feasible and a step-change in processing - enabling high-speed, low-cost, cutting, shaping and engraving. If successful, this technology could translate from the flat glass industry into other sectors – such as tableware, optical components and specialist processing.

New generation of joint treatments

The Restoration project demonstrates the incredible benefits of glass in the treatment of degenerative joint disease and broken bones. Bioceramic polymer composites can conform to a patient’s anatomy, protect and support the fractured bone and resorb non-toxically within 24 months of placement.We’re working with an international consortium of academic and business partners to create a new generation of joint and bone treatments, using specialised bioceramic polymer composites, which minimise invasive surgery and improve patient recovery, addressing needs such as osteoarthritis, vertebral and maxillofacial bone fractures.

The Restoration project demonstrates the incredible benefits of glass in the treatment of degenerative joint disease and broken bones. Bioceramic polymer composites can conform to a patient’s anatomy, protect and support the fractured bone and resorb non-toxically within 24 months of placement.

New injectable composites are also stimulating bone regeneration and delivering specific drugs to the target site. In the treatment of osteoarthritis, bioceramic composite plugs are being developed, which minimise invasive surgery and could significantly delay or completely remove the need for a total joint replacement. GTS is working in partnership on the project, with the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Sagetis Biotech SL, Bionica Tech SRL, Orla Protein Technologies, Karolinska Institutet, Acondicionamiento Tarrasense Associacion, Universidade de Eura, Institut Quimic de Sarria, Fondazione del Piemonte per l’Oncologia and JRI Orthopaedics.  (footnote:  http://restoration-project.eu)

Ground-breaking laser technology

Light-MiLES (Miniature Laser-illuminated Eye-safe Sensors) will see the development of customised, ultra-high quality glass materials for use within the laser cavity of the sensor, which will enable significant reduction in the energy requirement and weight of the final product whilst offering improvements in device performance.In another project, led by Thales UK’s Optronics business in Glasgow, we’re providing photonics and material science expertise to develop and demonstrate an innovative, compact, low cost and eye-safe laser-illuminated imaging sensor, capable of long-range operation.

Light-MiLES (Miniature Laser-illuminated Eye-safe Sensors) will see the development of customised, ultra-high quality glass materials for use within the laser cavity of the sensor, which will enable significant reduction in the energy requirement and weight of the final product whilst offering improvements in device performance.

The ‘eye-safe’ laser technology has far reaching applications, especially where human exposure is unavoidable – and could include applications such as optical communications, medical diagnostic use, remote sensing (LIDAR), range finding and targeting across defence, medical, construction, domestic and commercial markets. Other partners in the specialist consortium include Gooch & Housego Ltd and the University of Leeds.

Bone trauma innovation

The SCAMP project  aims to produce bioactive phosphate-based glass fibres in a form that can be used to produce fabrics and reinforced plastics allowing a range of clinical uses.Our specialists are leading a project in which we have developed a working prototype fibre drawing production facility to pave the way for industrial manufacture of bioresorbable phosphate glass fibre glass tows - specialist fibres which can be used for a multitude of biomedical applications, including the treatment of serious bone trauma.

The production facility aims to produce bioactive phosphate-based glass fibres in a form that can be used to produce fabrics and reinforced plastics allowing a range of clinical uses. The materials produced from the glass fibres stimulate cell growth and are gradually replaced by cells such as bone or skin due to the unique ability of the material to dissolve in body fluid in a controlled manner. Other partners in the project include The University of Nottingham, Controls Interface Ltd, Invensys-Eurotherm and P-D Interglas Technologies.

Revolutionising orthopaedic surgery

The FASTIC (Femtosecond-pulsed-laser Augment/bioglass Sintering Technique for Implant Customisation) project is set to revolutionise joint replacement surgery thanks to the development of new lasers and orthopaedic biomaterials.In partnership with specialists in ultra-fast lasers, materials and orthopaedic implants, we’re developing a new technology which will allow surgeons to customise joint replacements during surgery, when there is significant bone loss due to bone cancer, dissatisfactory implants or other situations where bone loss cannot be quantified prior to operating. The FASTIC (Femtosecond-pulsed-laser Augment/bioglass Sintering Technique for Implant Customisation) project is set to revolutionise joint replacement surgery thanks to the development of new lasers and orthopaedic biomaterials.

The new bench-top laser systems will be used alongside newly-developed orthopaedic bioactive glass materials, which surgeons will be able to sinter together without raising the temperature of surrounding bone or tissue. The technology has the potential to revolutionise complex joint replacement surgery and to be applied in other fields that require rapid manufacture on heat sensitive substrates. Our partners in the project include project leaders JRI Orthopaedics Ltd as well as M Squared Lasers Ltd, the University of Leeds and the University of St Andrews.

In a separate project, also led by JRI, GTS are working to develop a novel additive manufacturing technique which will utilise selective laser sintering of bioactive glass materials to create customised three dimensional structures for use in biomedical implants.  The project is also looking to translate the technology for use in other applications, including sensors for use in the photovoltaic industry.  Other partners in the project include the Manufacturing Technology Centre Catapult, 3T RPD Ltd., Sheffield University based Mercury Centre and Delta T Device Ltd.

Transfer of Knowledge and Technology

While many of the above projects are associated with specialist glass applications we are particularly excited about a number of processing technologies from these areas that we can see potential for in the mainstream glass industry.  We also have a number of commercially funded projects running closer to market in the mainstream industry which unfortunately we can’t discuss due to commercial confidentiality. 

Our specialist teams are obviously delighted to be part of these and other, groundbreaking projects, in partnership with leading manufacturers, universities and other organisations. Exploiting state-of-the-art technologies in material science, advanced materials and photonics, it is enabling the global glass industry to be at the forefront of innovation and to demonstrate the true worth of glass in so many applications.

See our portfolio of disclosable projects and studies online at www.glass-ts.com/projects or sign-up to our newsletter for regular updates on projects, news and other developments.

If you have a product idea, require a novel glass solution, or have research in mind why not contact us to discuss your ideas. Our specialist knowledge in glass, combined with experience and expertise in EU funding opportunities, mean that we can assess a variety of project funding, delivery and exploitation options. GTS works across the glass supply industry both in the UK and internationally, providing analysis, consultancy, testing and research and development support across the glass, food and drink, architecture and construction, retail, medical, pharmaceutical, defence and biotech sectors.

For more information please see www.glass-ts.com, telephone +44 (0) 114 290 1801 or email enquiries@glass-ts.com. 


Reproduction of this published material is provided courtesy of Glass International. Published in Glass International June 2014.


 


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