Victrex Plc.

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The Organisation

Victrex Plc., based in Lancashire, is a global high-performance polymer solutions provider serving more than 40 countries.  Every day, millions of people rely on products or applications which contain the company's materials, from smartphones, aeroplanes and cars to oil and gas operations and medical devices. 

www.victrex.com

The Challenge

Victrex has collaborated with customers from various industries to push innovation and deliver solutions such as metal-replacement polymers that can withstand the harshest operating conditions, are lightweight and can outperform metals. Robust plastics are hugely prevalent in manufacturing, and any improvement in their manufacturing procedure would be important to costs and efficiency. Victrex Plc. wanted to research polyaryletherketone polymers and the chemistry behind their manufacture.

Skills Sought

  • Team worker
  • Self-motivated
  • Good problem solving skills
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Computer literate

The Solution

Callum Wallace, Chemistry, was recruited through the Science and Technology Internships for a three month internship with Victrex Plc. Callum met with the relevant company staff to gain an understanding of the research and development project, then undertook research into the core chemistry underpinning the manufacture of polyaryletherketone polymers and reported his findings to the company.

Cost

The internship was fully funded by Victrex Plc. at £1,150+VAT per month, with a total value of £4,140 for the three months.

Impact

The research helped Victrex increase understanding of the core chemistry underpinning the manufacture of polyaryletherketone (PAEK) polymers. The work that Callum performed was a feasibility study on a new type of PAEK that can potentially deliver a better combination of flow and mechanical strength (with conventional polymers there is often a trade-off between these two properties). It has brought the work forward to a point where they have sufficient data to justify a more detailed follow-up study.

Benefits to the company

  • Knowledge and expertise of a Lancaster University Science and Technology student
  • Increased the company’s knowledge of chemistry behind polyaryletherketone polymer manufacture
  • Saved management time
  • Dedicated resource and ability to focus on a specific project that would otherwise have drifted.

Company Feedback

“The project that Callum worked on was speculative but potentially very interesting. We find that interns such as Callum are very useful in driving this sort of work forward by focusing on it, whereas permanent staff typically have numerous other priorities. Callum was very helpful and we couldn’t have completed this research as quickly without his help and the Lancaster University Science and Technology Internship Programme.  ” Adam Chaplin, Victrex Plc.

Student Feedback

“My Internship was with Victrex Plc. I chose them because they are a highly motivated company with a great outlook in to what they can achieve and how they can improve. I enjoyed working with the business because of the atmosphere within the company and the chance to meet highly skilled people who have taken the degree I am studying further. From the internship I have learnt various lab techniques in a professional environment and how any result is a good result. I developed skills in time management, problem solving, creative thinking and applying theoretical chemistry to practice. I would recommend doing an internship because it’s an amazing opportunity to get a feel of what it’s like to work in industry and helps develop skill you learn at university so much further. The internship impacted my future prospects by allowing me to see what will be expected of me when I graduate, on top of providing a realist work experience I can aim for.” Callum Wallace, Chemistry, Victrex Plc. Intern.

Future Plans

“It would make a lot of sense for Victrex to build on this relationship, now that Lancaster once more have a Chemistry department.”