CASE STUDY: PINWELD - innovation in plastic welding
Pinweld Ltd. was originally set up to explore options for an innovative method of joining thin sheet (1-5mm) olefin plastics by welding. The project has received substantial interest from the automotive repair sector in the UK - both from workshops, national franchises, insurance companies and automotive trade associations, as many cracked plastic bumpers and under bonnet parts are replaced rather than repaired, at a significant financial and environmental cost.
Using Pinweld precision polymer repair technology, these parts can be effectively repaired to almost the strength of the original plastic in a fraction of the time, and at far lower cost than the current processes.
To progress with the project Keven Chappell, Chief Technology Officer for Pinweld, applied for support through the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub (STBAH) programme, funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported by Bath SETsquared and the University of Bath, who provide fully funded business support through mentoring, workshops and collaboration opportunities.
Technology development was key so research collaboration opportunities were soon made through the University of Bath between materials scientists and engineers where testing and trials took place. The analysis of this data was then subsequently used to help with grant funding applications.
Pinweld have now developed a patented precision polymer weld technology suitable for both the repair and original manufacture of high value plastic components. The technology can be applied to a wide variety of polymers, industries and markets.
Automotive technicians will be able to repair rather than replace a range of components, including those containing high value electronics and other materials, which are reported to create difficulties in recycling processing. Using Pinweld instruments, components will be able to be repaired to a high standard rather than be discarded; this provides the dual benefit of lowering the cost of minor impact repairs and substantially reducing the volume of plastic waste generated.
The business has already received financial support from an Angel Investors; however, additional funding will be required to support prototype development leading to production.
Things continue to progress rapidly for Pinweld with the recent announcement and appointment of Antony Pullen as Chairman and CEO of the business.
Antony will bring a wealth of senior international strategic, commercial, operational and M&A experience in the FMCG, B2B and automotive sectors, including The Coca Cola Company, Experian and Koenigsegg.
Talking about his recent appointment, Antony says,
““ I’m delighted to join the Pinweld Team taking this unique, precision polymer weld technology to market. This innovative technology is going to have a significant beneficial impact on the automotive repair market. It quickly, reliably and efficiently mends plastic under bonnet components and body parts, which today are simply discarded as a matter of routine. The significant environmental and economic benefits of repairing rather than replacing automotive plastic parts makes this an inspiring and exciting project to be associated with.””
Keven Chappell, Chief Technology Officer and founder of Pinweld, goes onto say,
“In the mid 90’s as an innovator and keen motorcyclist with an immediate need, I devised a reliable method of fixing cracked plastic panels using a novel form of plastic welding. Working full-time in aerospace and reliability engineering I didn't think much more about it until, some two decades later, I moved from engineering to retrain as a maths teacher. To pay the bills during teacher training, I used my old designs and began to repair bike fairings, car headlight brackets and other plastic items. Individuals and subsequently businesses became interested in making use of the service so I started Plastic Repairs Ltd. As the technology developed, I began raising the funds to develop the plastic welding equipment, which was later refined to become the Pinweld tool. The business is rapidly moving forward and with the appointment of Antony I’m confident that his experience and business knowledge will fast track us in the right direction.”
Additional appointments to the Pinweld management team are Paul Albone, Chief Operations Officer, and David Wright, Chief Commercial Officer.
“We’re currently working toward the launch of the first of the Pinweld family of products, and are in the third stage of investment which, if successful will take the Pinweld precision repair technology in to production. The support we have received from the STBAH and introductions made to the right contacts at the University of Bath have been invaluable and this really helped to kick start the business. The work and support from from the Materials and Structures Centre at the University have been first class. We are currently in residence at Bath SETsquared - a real hub for business incubation, so a great place for Pinweld Ltd to thrive, although new premises for Pinweld are on the horizon, but we are still keen to keep our links with Bath SETsquared. Right now I’m really excited about what the future holds. If you have an idea or are a business innovating in sustainable technologies I would highly recommend you get in touch with the team at STBAH - they helped focus our business and could do the same for you.”
Pete Keevill, Entrepreneur in Residence for the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub first met Keven in March last year following an initial meeting to discuss the project and how the STBAH could help the business.
Talking about the progress of the business, Pete says,
“It’s very exciting to hear how things are progressing for Pinweld. It is a great success story, from an idea initially used on a small scale - a 20 year gap - and how it has now morphed into a business with a viable product that will impact the environment and how businesses look at plastic repairs in a positive way. It’s been great working with Keven and the team at Pinweld and I will definitely be following their progress and watching with interest as their products develop.”
For further information on Pinweld Ltd visit the website here. If you are interested in learning more about the Sustainable Technologies Business Acceleration Hub and how to apply for business support detail can be found here.