Portishead-based Q5D has completed a pioneering project focused on automating the manufacture of wiring for aerospace systems.

The LiveWire project combines the knowledge of the world’s largest aerospace companies and the technical capabilities of UK SMEs and academic institutes to make lower cost, higher quality and lighter components.

Funded by Innovate UK, Q5D received £1.8m to complete the project. The team is pleased to be launching the product shortly, targeted at the aerospace, automotive, medical, industrial, and consumer sectors.

Automation to improve efficiency

Q5D specialises in making 5-axis, additive manufacturing robots for wire harness and printed electronics automation. Simon Baggot, CMO at Q5D tells us more about the ambition behind the project: “Wire harnesses are critical in many designs, from electric vehicles to aircraft to consumer electronics, but most of this production is manual and labour intensive.

“Q5D’s robots automate those processes, enabling manufacturers to cut costs, reduce waste, and develop products with more complex wiring. For example, in the car industry, precision wiring can enable carmakers to add more features and differentiate their products.”

Automation also makes manufacturers less vulnerable to potential supply chain disruptions. Unforeseen global events can constrain the ability of manufacturers to meet the demands of their market when reliant on human labour alone.

Reducing supply chain distances also reduces the carbon cost of shipping, leading to significant environmental benefits.

Prior to this announcement, Q5D also was awarded a £15,000 Innovate UK EDGE grant to access the resources and facilities of the Catapult Network. Following this, the organisations have teamed up to develop new printed electronics materials for the aerospace industry as it looks to transition away from silver.

“That project will give us scope to partner with aerospace companies on pioneering new technologies,” explains Rachel Eggington, COO at Q5D. Commenting on how invaluable the Innovate UK EDGE support has been, Rachel continues, “We also worked with Innovate UK EDGE’s Stephanie Fox to secure an IP Audit grant, which has helped us to strategically map out our IP goals and then secure a further IPO grant to act on the audit findings.

“It’s given us a huge amount of confidence and a clear direction of travel as we develop new technologies and re-approach our investment community.”

Innovate UK EDGE will continue to support as this Portishead innovator continues to revolutionise the wire harness industry, enabling new possibilities in aerospace, automotive, medical devices and other sectors.

Find out how the Innovate UK EDGE team may be able to support your business today here.