In a landmark achievement for UCT, Associate Professor Rob Knutsen of the Centre for Materials Engineering has taken the lead in founding and steering the recently formed Cape Initiative in Materials and Manufacturing (Cimm).
Thanks to CI, a non-profit company set up by four Cape tertiary institutions and iThemba LABS, manufacturers can now access materials know how, research and development facilities.
This expertise will help small and medium enterprises solve materials in manufacturing problems. Already, Cimm has tackled over 20 small to medium projects in 2005.
Western Cape manufacturers, including those working with or processing plastic, metal and ceramics, are now able to access advanced materials design and selection know how from some of the country's top researchers in the fields.
"Cimm is a gateway linking industry to universities and aims to ensure that knowledge is transferred to Cape manufacturers, helping intellectual property creation. The enterprise also takes on contract research and development," said Knutsen, who chairs the enterprise.
Manufacturers in the Western Cape can access highly-rated materials test by logging onto the Cimm website (www.cimm.co.za). The website also lists test equipment available for hire.
Cimm also offers a materials enquiry service, providing information on the selection, classification and properties of a wide range of metals, alloys and materials.
"We're conscious of the need to assist small and medium enterprises with their design and materials needs and support the provincial government's target of growing 100 000 sustainable jobs in five years," Knutsen said.
Cimm has a project for a student enterprise centre, one that will carry out small, short-term research and development projects for small and medium enterprises.
"We welcome industry contacting us to start up materials projects, be they in metals or polymers," Knutsen added.
Cimm is actively involved in the current provincial government's advanced materials technology strategy development and is planning a range of projects over the next three years.
Other Cimm projects will focus on providing assistance to small and medium enterprises in the design and selection of materials as well as the introduction of continuous professional development courses for technologists and engineers.
They also hope to offer seminars to keep local industry abreast of trends emerging in materials development - and how they can tap into these resources.
"Our aim at Cimm is to link academics, the manufacturing industry and the provincial government in the field of materials and manufacturing while supporting sustainable job creation and adding value to locally-manufactured products," Knutsen concluded.
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