Working with industry

With over 30 years of experience working with industry, Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre (PEMC) can offer you a comprehensive service that brings together academic expertise and research with businesses across the UK and beyond.

Our relationships within the commercial sector have earned us a strong reputation as a reliable, well-rounded and professional centre, providing insight and solutions to real-world problems from a strong foundation of scientific research.

“Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre is a jewel in the crown not just for the University, but for the city of Plymouth.” 
Professor Jerry Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise

<p>PEMC team photo 2019</p>

Commercial customers

PEMC has a commercial user group spanning a range of sectors from aerospace to manufacturing, engineering to textiles, microelectronics, biomedical and other sectors. We provide expert, local access to imaging and analysis instrumentation, supporting a diverse range of activities including:

  • materials properties analysis (e.g. composition and crystal structure using EBSD, EDS, WDS and CL)
  • analysis of defects and / or failure(s) in components
  • evaluation of a product's quality / consistency (quality control)
  • bio-imaging
  • mineralogical analysis and sample characterisation
  • 3D digital imaging and analysis

PEMC has strong links with other departments within the University, so can offer a full analytical service in addition to electron microscopy data capture, including composites, metallurgy, engineering and food science.

Our industry customers have benefited from using electron microscopy for:

  • improved products and processes
  • improved quality control
  • reduction of waste (and therefore cost)
  • new product development
  • promotional images for web and printed materials.

Plymouth Materials Characterisation Network (PMCN)

PMCN aims to build a self-sustaining network of researchers, technicians, industry experts, and academics who are familiar with and benefit from the use of electron microscopy (EM) in their day-to-day business. Any company wishing to utilise electron microscopy in their research and development can now access the equipment available at PEMC, along with benefitting from our technical expertise across a range of disciplines, between now and 2023, including SEM, TEM and FIB-SEM. Use is either free or heavily discounted, and companies of any size are now able to engage, though priority will be given to SMEs and those in the Devon region in the first instance.

Read more about the project, eligibility criteria and next steps

<p>EBSD of metasomatised mantle rock</p>

Why work with PEMC?

We offer bespoke services to make the most of our extensive suite of instruments, to investigate and understand your products in depth. As keen knowledge sharers experienced in interdisciplinary collaborations, our team of experts will help you to benefit from:

  • improved performance of products and processes
  • enhanced quality control and monitoring
  • increased efficiency (waste and cost)
  • new product development
  • promotional images and outreach materials
  • educational materials
  • research support
  • collaborative R&D

As one of many high-spec facilities at the University of Plymouth, you can also benefit from an accessible and relevant service with:

  • a rapid turnaround – averaging 10 days or less
  • access to further University of Plymouth expertise (e.g the Marine Institute, mechanical engineers, geologists, metallurgists, food scientists etc.)
  • access to further University of Plymouth services (e.g Knowledge Transfer Partnerships)
  • objective analysis results
  • daily opening hours
  • ongoing investment in instrumentation
  • competitive hourly and daily rates.

Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre

Real business experience

We found the PEMC service extremely useful. The communication was excellent; any potential problems were communicated to us for verification before PEMC carried out the work. We are extremely happy with the results and will definitely be using PEMC again.

Ben Daniels, Production Planner, Peter Day Precision Engineering

Who else has the PEMC worked with?

How European funding supported SMEs in the South West, using Electron Microscopy from 2010–2015

Thanks to funding from the European Regional Development Fund, we gave 121 companies 12 hours of free support in PEMC. Our customers came from Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, and companies varied from;

  • Peter Day Precision Engineering Ltd - to verify the precision thickness of their platings for their customers.
  • Langage Farm LLP - examining the microstructure of their quarg and yoghurt, leading to new product development. 
  • BB Photonics Ltd - precision measurement to support new product development. 

A number of these companies have now come back to work with PEMC regularly, demonstrating the real value of our service to businesses of any size. 

As a result of their initial work with PEMC, Langage Farm LLP embarked on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the University. This collaboration was so successful that Langage Farm secured a £4.2million deal with a major supermarket as a result.

The three reports below (produced by the Heart of the SW Local Enterprise Partnership (HOTSW LEP)CaSE and the National Centre for Universities and Business) mention the impact of PEMC's work with industry.