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Episode Info:

Mark Crouchen is the managing director of Rockwood Composites, a company in the UK that specialises in manufacturing complex composite components using compression and bladder moulding. These manufacturing processes use fibre mats of carbon fibre, glass fibre, Kevlar, or any other material, which are pre-impregnated with a resin matrix and then placed in a mould, where they are cured at elevated temperature with the addition of external or internal pressure.

The team at Rockwood has been supplying the aerospace, defense, medical and nuclear industries for over 25 years, with customers ranging from Leonardo Helicopters and the McLaren Formula 1 team to Safran and Facebook’s Aquila internet drone. In 2018, Rockwood won the Innovation in Manufacture award at the Composite UK industry event for their innovative use of advanced composite materials on the Tokomak ST40 nuclear fusion reactor. Composite materials have many benefits in terms of their excellent strength and stiffness at low weight. However, there is a common misconception that metal or ceramic components can easily be replaced one-to-one with composite components. The performance of any composite component is closely linked to the quality of the manufacturing process, and designing and manufacturing quality components is an area where Rockwood Composites particularly excel. In this episode of the podcast, Mark and I talk about:

  • his background in engineering
  • the types of structures that Rockwood Composites manufacture
  • why composites manufacturing is a challenge
  • and the special solution Rockwood found for the Tokomak ST40 fusion reactor

If you enjoy the Aerospace Engineering Podcast you can support it by leaving a review on iTunes or by supporting it directly on Patreon, where patrons of the podcast receive exclusive behind-the-scenes content and special episodes. Thanks a lot for listening!

This episode of the Aerospace Engineering Podcast is brought to you by AnalySwift. Do you work in the design and analysis of aerospace structures and materials? If so, AnalySwift’s innovative engineering software SwiftComp may be the solution you’re seeking. Used either independently for virtual testing of aerospace composites or as a plugin to power conventional FEA codes, SwiftComp delivers the accuracy of 3D FEA in seconds instead of hours. A general-purpose multi-scale modelling program, SwiftComp provides an efficient and accurate tool for modelling aerospace structures and materials featuring anisotropy and heterogeneity. SwiftComp quickly calculates the complete set of effective properties needed for use in macroscopic structural analysis. It also accurately predicts local stresses and strains in the microstructure for predicting strengths. Find out how others in composites are saving time while improving accuracy, considering more design options, and arriving at the best solution more quickly. A no-cost Academic Partner Program is now available for eligible universities. For a free trial, visit SwiftComp: Right results. Right away.

This episode is also sponsored by, which is an online hub for you if you are interested in aerospace stress engineering. provides world-class engineering services and online courses on the stress analysis of aircraft structures, as well as a free ebook and blog. No matter if you’re a junior or senior structural analyst, provides you with the skills and know-how to become a champion in your workplace.

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