The MP opened the world’s first swimming pool cover test centre at a market-leading plastics factory in St Leonards on Friday (May 20).
Amber Rudd cut the special plastic ‘ribbon’ made of the ground-breaking Geobubble material to open the facility at Plastipack’s headquarters on Churchfields Industrial Estate.
The company is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of specialist materials used to make swimming pool covers and the test centre will provide data on how effective its design is.
The energy and climate change minister was delighted to formally open Plastipack’s new test facility.
“It’s encouraging that an interesting and innovative business such as Plastipack is growing so strongly on the world stage from their established base in Hastings,” she said.
“It’s vital that they are able to continue to access the support within the UK and Europe that is so important for their growth prospects.”
The unique test centre has five outdoor swimming pools all with different covers designed for different environments from the cooler British climate to the much hotter Middle East.
This allows Plastipack to accurately measure and compare the performance of varying types of cover materials, while monitoring real-time water temperature and environmental conditions.
The Geobubble design looks similar to bubble-wrap but instead of singular bubbles, two bubbles are push together to form a sort of figure of eight, which improves the strength and performance of the swimming pool covers.
Plastipack’s managing director Peter Adlington said the centre will benefit the business by improving its understanding and credibility of the product.
“Our new outdoor laboratory will be invaluable in the development, analysis and comparison of high performance cover materials for pools,” he said.
“It increases our understanding of how products perform on real pools and will help Plastipack maintain market leadership through technical expertise.
“It adds credibility to product claims with publishable results and greater environmental monitoring which sets us and our products apart from other manufacturers.
“It also helps raise the importance and industry awareness of credible performance data.”
The test facility has been designed and developed in collaboration with the Knowledge Transfer Partnership at the University of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute and Department of Physics. The project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.
The test area represents an investment of £100k at Plastipack’s St Leonards site, which currently employs 34 core staff.
Plastipack currently exports to 34 countries throughout the world, with around 75 per cent of its business in the EU.
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