Qualitech KTP

•    Aston University develops novel filtration system through knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) with steel-etching company Qualitetch Components Ltd
•    The new filtration system has more than doubled etching capacity and the company is already installing a second unit
•    Results of the collaboration will increase productivity, reduce core manufacturing costs and grow turnover by £1.6 million over the next three years.

Aston University has completed a 24-month knowledge transfer partnership (KTP) with precision steel-etching company Qualitetch Components Ltd (QCL), resulting in a novel in-line filtration process. The unique system has resulted in a better-controlled manufacturing process, reduced core manufacturing costs, increased productivity and a projected turnover growth of £1.6 million over the next three years. 

A KTP is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner and a highly qualified graduate, known as a KTP associate. The UK-wide programme helps businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. 

Aston University is the leading KTP provider within the Midlands and the project with QCL was awarded the highest grade of ‘Outstanding’ by the Innovate UK KTP Grading Panel.

QCL, which is based in March just outside Peterborough, creates customer-specific, precision-etched manufacturing solutions for the aerospace, automotive, electronics, medical devices and aesthetic/decorative sectors. 
The company has had a long-term issue with the accumulation of carbon particles inside etching baths while producing high-quality etched components using photo and chemical etching processes. Through the KTP, the company sought to solve the problem through Aston University’s knowledge and skill in developing in-line membrane filtrations, allowing greater machine capacity, more consistent manufacturing processes and improved competitiveness.

Dr Qingchun Yuan, a lecturer in chemical engineering with rich experience in solving engineering processing problems, led the academic team from Aston University. The project saw Dr Yuan jointly publish a paper with KTP associate Soroush Mehdizadeh, who now works full-time at QCL as a process development engineer. 

Dr Yuan was joined by Dr Zhentao Wu, an expert in the application of hollow fibre membranes to commercial sectors, who said: “A KTP is a great mechanism for engaging with industry, while at the same time boosting teaching and research at the University. It is very exciting to see our research excel in real-world situations.”

Alexander Craig, QCL managing director, said: “The KTP process is an ideal way for SMEs to climb the ladder of development. The collaboration with Aston University has allowed us to grow our business in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.” 

Notes to editors

You can watch a video of this project on Aston University’s YouTube channel. 

This project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Watch our short film to see how it works and visit our website for examples of KTP in action at Aston.

To find out more about how your business can benefit from working with Aston University, please email rke@aston.ac.uk or call 0121 204 4242

About Aston University
Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Saskia Hansen is the interim Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world. 

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Nicola Jones, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7825 342091 or email n.jones6@aston.ac.uk

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