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Permali Driving Cost-Effectiveness and Sustainability in Defence

In today’s ever-evolving geopolitical landscape, the demand for safety and defence measures in combat and civilian spaces is at an all-time high. However, the emergence of newer opportunities in the defence space gave rise to more stringent regulations, which started hindering defence contractors from meeting their delivery deadlines for manufacturing equipment. At the same time, to drive the movement toward greener operations, vendors in the industry are also facing issues with designing products that can be manufactured using eco-friendly materials, are lighter, and produce a lower carbon footprint. Addressing these needs with its ability to offer end-to-end manufacturing capabilities alongside a range of unique, lightweight, and robust composite solutions is England-based Permali.

Above: Permali’s Spray Paint Coating Booth


The company’s comprehensive portfolio is backed by its in-house experts from the realms of design, material science, product development, and others, which ensures that all of a client’s needs are always met. And as a way to bridge the gap between the defence market and rising environmental laws, Permali provides a suite of composite materials that comply with the flammability, smoke, and toxic fumes emission regulations. “From design to final product delivery, we are always ready to deliver on the specifications of a client with our comprehensive in-house processing capabilities and team expertise,” says Fraser Rankin, Sales & Marketing Director at Permali. Founded in 1937, Permali was initially a contractor in the high voltage and tooling industry, providing phenolic resin-based high-pressure lamination and coating services. This work with phenolic solutions-built expertise for Permali that it leveraged to penetrate the aerospace market where phenolic resin-based components were being designed and developed for a growing number of applications and are today a mainstay.

Above: The Ajax armoured fighting vehicle which Permali is actively involved with


Over the decades, the company expanded from covering core defence sectors to several commercial and civil market sectors, offering composite solutions and eventually branching into TPU solutions. Today, Permali is a world leader in manufacturing composite materials and bespoke solutions for aerospace, defence, rail, marine, and healthcare arenas. And at the heart of this success is the company’s 10,500 sq. m. factory that boasts next-gen pressing, moulding, assemble, CNC machining facilities and dedicated wings for CAD design, inspection, and R&D. From a portfolio standpoint, Permali manufactures Permaglass composite materials in the form of laminated sheets, mouldings, and sandwich panels. In terms of processing prowess, the company prides itself in its impregnation capabilities, which has allowed it to produce products for a wide range of applications in multiple markets. “We have invested significant capital in modernizing our impregnation wing to help expand our ability to manufacture better, lighter, and more affordable products,” adds Rankin. Apart from this, Permali’s single-site processing capabilities include mechanical and flammability testing, CAD/CAM design and manufacturing, rapid prototyping (3D printing), resin mixing, high pressure pressing/moulding, 5-axis precision machining, mechanical and bonding assembly sections, all backed by an AS9100 Rev D quality accreditation.

Above: Permali has both 3 and 5-axis CNC Routers and Water Jet Cutters


On the other hand, Permali speciality prepreg fibre reinforcements, thermoplastics, ceramic plates and coating materials used by Permali for manufacturing integrated Permaglass® composite appliqué amour systems. These protection offerings comprise ballistic-grade UHMWPE fibres, including DSM Dyneema® and Honeywell Spectra Shield®, Kevlar® and Twaron® rubber-coated aramid fibres, woven and non-woven S2, E-glass fibre fabrics and tissues, alumina, silicon and boron carbide ballistic grade ceramic plates, and chemical resistant Tufshield® elastomeric PU coating Further discussing the core competencies of his company, Fraser elaborates, “Our mission is to help the defence and aerospace sectors produce lighter and cost-effective products with high longevity.” In pursuit of this, Permali approaches every client engagement with a goal to deliver as lightweight and low-cost a solution as possible. But, the company is flexible in this when it comes to higher threat level component production. For instance, in a project for the development of a helicopter component, Permali will prioritize weight and develop an end-part that showcases the highest strength. Another key facet of Permali’s flexible engagement approach is the ability to offer fair pricing as the company typically offers multiple prototypes with varying weights to choose from: lower the weight, higher the cost, and vice-versa.

Above: Type 45 Destroyer featuring Permali’s safety net systems


With such unmatched capabilities, Permali has ignited several success stories since its inception. A prime example of the company’s proven track record would be the role it played in developing the aircraft cockpit door protection upgrade in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. Being an industry giant, Permali had anticipated such a requirement as a result of an incident in December 2000 when a passenger stormed the cockpit of BA Flight 2069 from Gatwick to Nairobi and forced the aircraft into a dive before the crew was able to overcome the intruder and regain control of the aircraft. After September 2001, Permali immediately began working with aircraft manufacturers and airlines on solutions for preventing cockpit intrusion. Subsequently, the company developed a material, branded Permaglass XFS2, which is a lightweight composite armour solution capable of stopping handgun threats, whilst also meeting all aircraft interior flammability standards, including vertical burn, heat release, and smoke & toxic fume emissions.

Above: Permali’s cargo liner and cockpit door armour features on the Boeing 737


The first airline to respond was Virgin Atlantic Airways who contracted Permali to supply retrofit cockpit door reinforcement for their aircraft in advance of the new regulations being published. This retrofit solution was supplied in October 2001, less than six weeks after the September 11 attacks took place. The company went on to work closely with Airbus and various aircraft interior manufacturers to supply solutions for Airbus, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Embraer and other aircraft, helping to protect thousands of aircraft and millions of passengers worldwide. Looking ahead, Permali plans to leverage its acquisition by market-leader Diamorph to expand its footprint in the U.S. and Eastern Europe as well as boost innovations in the development of materials capable of delivering cost reduction and sustainability.

Find out more about our Defence and Aerospace solutions.

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New Permali composite flight deck safety systems meet the latest UK MoD fire retardancy standards for Royal Navy vessels.

New Permali composite flight deck safety systems meet the latest UK MoD fire retardancy standards for Royal Navy vessels.

Permali is the global market leader in the design and manufacture of high strength, glass fibre reinforced (GRP) composite stanchions, guardrails, deck safety net frames and ladder systems for naval warships and support vessels. UK MoD fire retardancy (FR) standards have become even more stringent since the first Permali composite stanchions were fitted on the decks of Royal Navy ships more than 30 years ago.

To meet the latest UK MoD regulatory standard to improve naval crew fire protection, Permali’s R & D team has developed Permaglass® XGR2/4, a new specialist FR composite material grade, which provides the next generation naval safety fire performance. Extensive mechanical and fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) testing to the new Defence Standard 07-247 has been carried out to validate the new material’s suitability for the demanding deck safety applications.

Figure 1: Close up shot of fabricated finished painted GRP composite stanchions


New MoD FST Def standard

Defence Standard 07-247 is the latest, more stringent MoD fire, smoke and toxicity (FST) performance standard for naval vessels. Permaglass XGR2/4 achieved the highest overall Category A1 rating possible for this enhanced FST Def standard; critically XGR2/4 fire test coupons achieved Class 1 for surface spread of flames (to BS 467 Part 6) and a fire propagation index (I) of 7.8 (to BS 467 Part 7).

Equally impressive is that Permali’s innovative new Permaglass XGR2/4 resin grade and laminate system achieves this higher FST rating while still easily meeting the demanding mechanical performance requirements of the MoD standard. Permali has been able to do this by combining its proprietary high performance, low VOC thermoset FR resin formulation with woven glass reinforcements. Typical mechanical properties listed by Permali in the published technical data sheet for Permaglass XGR2/4 include a flexural strength of 720 MPa (to BS EN ISO178) and a tensile strength of 600 MPa (to BS 2782 Part 10:Method 1003). [Figure 6. Permaglass XGR2/4 typical mechanical properties table.]

Figure 2: Permali’s safety nets on the runway of HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of two British aircraft carriers


Steve Benn, Permali Technical Manager for composites commented: “The challenge was to achieve the fire performance required by this more demanding MoD FST standard without introducing the mechanical performance loss typically associated with the addition of fire retardant fillers. Working with our customers and the MoD regulatory team, we have managed to develop a technical solution which provides the right balance of properties needed for this next generation of naval stanchions. Permaglass XGR2/4 is now specified for manufacturing all four types of safety systems that Permali supplies for naval vessels”.


Proven naval deck safety systems

The Royal Navy (RN) and other navies around the world specify Permali’s lightweight, high performance GRP products to protect crew personnel and equipment on weather decks, flight decks, and walkways. All deck safety systems developed for Royal Naval vessels are MoD approved and rigorously tested to ensure that they meet specified DNV and Lloyds register regulatory standards.

Figure 3: Permali’s stanchions feature on HMS Arygll, a Type 23 frigate


Current naval vessels in service fitted with Permali supplied deck safety systems include: Visby class corvettes; RN Type 45 destroyers and Type 23 frigates; RFA Bay class support ships; the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, famed for being the biggest, most advanced warships ever built for the Royal Navy. In addition to naval ships, the specialist polar exploration vessel the RRS Sir David Attenborough is also fitted with Permali deck safety systems to protect personnel while on the flight deck.

Figure 4: RRS Sir David Attenborough features Permali’s safety net system on it’s flight deck


GRP stanchion benefits

The use of a GRP composite material for stanchions, guardrails and net frames provide key in-service benefits over metallic alternatives, being lightweight, vibration free, corrosion resistant, low maintenance and non-conductive. For warships, a major operational benefit of using Permali’s composite stanchions for both deck safety nets frames and guardrail stanchions is that being non-metallic they produce a significantly reduced radar detection signature.

Figure 5: Permali’s safety net system features on HMS Daring, the first Type 45


Design flexibility

Permali offers a complete range of durable deck or hull mounted modular GRP composite stanchion designs to provide rigid guardrails, PARAFIL® synthetic rope guardrails and safety nets, or removable chains. Four standard stanchion styles are manufactured to accommodate the different types of vessels and deck area safety requirements:

  • Type A stanchions (for fixed position guardrails)
  • Type B stanchions (can fold fore and aft of the deck)
  • Type D stanchions (fold onto the deck)
  • Quick Release/Removable stanchions (for access areas)

Stanchion systems are supplied by Permali ‘ready to install’, complete with all the stainless steel deck base fixings, positive lock fittings and lug bolts specified for guardrail and net system designs. All fabricated composite stanchions, rigid guardrails, ‘quick release’ lift off gates and deck safety net frames are finish painted in-house with a two part paint system to the required vessel colours. Lift off gates are installed to provide easy access to specific deck areas for ‘over the side’ Replenishment at Sea (RAS) and to enable unobstructed helicopter maintenance.

Figure 6: Typical Properties Table – Extract from Permali Permaglass XGR2/4 technical data sheet


Bespoke designs and modifications are incorporated by Permali to suit the type of vessel and customised requirements such as: rail height and width, numbers of handrails, seated angle and type of hinge points; manual or automated operation. For aircraft carriers, approach lighting is included in flight deck net safety systems.

Permali designs, manufactures and supplies a vast range of bespoke FRP composite panels, components, and systems, based on a wide variety of resins, fibres, cores, and adhesives for a wide range of safety critical military and civil land, sea and air applications. The Permali product range also includes standard and bespoke Tuftane® aromatic thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) elastic films.

To find out more head to our Naval Defence page

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Permali Invests Half a Million Pounds in 3D CNC Router and Waterjet Cutter

As part of the company’s long term business growth strategy, Permali has added a new CMS tecnocut idroline S2040 5-axis waterjet cutter and CMS MX5 gantry 5-axis CNC machining centre to its manufacturing facilities in Gloucester, UK. This major capital investment has expanded Permali’s production capacity and upgraded its in-house 3D machining capabilities to machine large, more complex components from composites, metals, ceramics and other high performance engineering materials.

Targeting new business 

Permali’s new 5-axis CNC Router


The new CMS waterjet cutter has a 4650mm x 2050mm bed size, designed to ensure very high standards of cutting accuracy. To increase operator safety and reduce over-spill, this latest model has automatic sliding glass barriers. The technocut idroline S2040’s innovative 5-axis cutting head features CMS jet drive compensation (JDC) technology which minimises conicity, providing high quality finish and size tolerance 3D machining capabilities. The proprietary JDC cutting head features include: infinite rotation for nesting cuts without breakpoints; cutting from 0° to 62°; automatic taper compensation up to 60° tilt angle; 3D machining; profile countersinking and chamfering; monitoring of cutting component wear.

The new CMS MX5 gantry 5-axis machining centre has a large 4000mm x 3200mm x 700mm work envelope, designed with a highly stable monobloc unit structure and fitted with CMS’s latest generation motors, drive systems and moving part technology. The MX5 provides Permali with productivity performance, precision and reliability, even when machining the most challenging engineering materials.

The addition of the new 5 axis waterjet cutter and CNC machining centre is enabling Permali to target new business in both defence and civil markets. Fraser Rankin, Director of Sales & Marketing for Permali explains: “Our 3-axis and new 5-axis water jet cutters and CNC milling and routing machines are now being used to develop new applications, particularly for more complex composite parts, not only for our long established air, sea and land defence customers, but also increasingly for non-military market sectors, such as medical, motorsport, civil aerospace, rail and automotive.”   

Permali’s new 5-axis Water Jet Cutter


Fraser went on to say: “An example of this is Permali’s new development of complex shaped vacuum infused FRP mouldings for use on London Underground rolling stock, compliant with EN45545 fire safety standards.  The parts in question take full advantage of the enhanced vertical integration capabilities that Permali used in-house on this project. These included 3D scanning, reverse engineering, CAD/CAM manufacturing, vacuum infusion, 5-axis machining, and painting.”

Permali designs, manufactures and supplies a vast range of bespoke FRP composite panels, components, and systems, based on a wide variety of resins, fibres, cores, and adhesives. The Permali product range also includes standard and bespoke Tuftane® aromatic thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) elastic films.

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Permali developing new breakthrough composite structures for Hydrogen Powered Buses

Permali developing new breakthrough composite structures for Hydrogen Powered Buses

Permali has won UK Government funding to develop a lightweight composite solution that will allow existing diesel-powered buses to be retrofitted with zero-emission hydrogen powertrains. The objective is to rapidly develop an affordable green technology alternative that can accelerate the ability for the UK to meet its net zero emissions target.

The funding has been awarded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) through the Niche Vehicle Network (NVN). The Permali R & D team, located at the company’s main site in Gloucester, will be working on this development project in collaboration with leading hydrogen and fuel cell specialist company Arcola Energy and the UK National Composites Centre (NCC). The partnership project is initially aimed at buses, but the new technology concept should be transferable to a wider range of vehicles, such as heavy-duty goods vehicles, trains and even aircraft.

Above: The Metrodecker H2 incorporates a hydrogen fuel cell powerpack developed by Arcola Energy. It can carry more than 90 passengers with a range of between 200 and 250 miles depending on specification and route.


Collaborative Project Objectives

Permali will work in close collaboration with the NCC to design and manufacture the proof of concept system. Arcola Energy will integrate and test the system with the hydrogen cylinders to achieve regulatory compliance and fit the new system to a double decker bus. The NCC approached Permali knowing their extensive experience in handling complex projects and proven track record in the F1 automotive, aerospace, defence, rail and energy sectors as a highly responsive provider of advanced materials solutions.

The project focus for Permali will be on the development and production of a low-cost, lightweight composite system which will structurally support the hydrogen fuel cylinders. The target for the Permali development team is to halve the weight of the current metallic hydrogen fuel tank structure and to increase energy storage by 25%, while still providing the required structural performance to meet the vehicle road safety standards.

Permali’s Sales & Marketing Director, Fraser Rankin, commented: “This is a fantastic win for Permali demonstrating the ability to create an innovative solution within a short time frame and to the complexity of the project requirements. Our dedicated and loyal team have been instrumental in the funding win and I’m excited to see Permali’s influence on a breakthrough project which contributes towards the UK’s carbon neutral goal.”

Benefits of Hydrogen Power

Hydrogen fuel provides a highly efficient zero-emission alternative to diesel. It is especially suited for buses which operate on long-distance, high-capacity routes. By retrofitting existing diesel engine buses with hydrogen powertrains, bus operators will be able to cost effectively run zero emission fleets, with a combination of retrofitted hydrogen powered buses for longer routes alongside electric battery powered buses for shorter routes.

For more information please contact

Inflatable Plastic Vehicle Isolation Screens keep drivers and passengers safer

An innovative inflatable clear plastic vehicle isolation screening system to provide personal protection from COVID-19 transfer has been rapidly developed and launched by the Dutch manufacturer, Buitink Technology. The new Buitink Inflatable Car Screen (BICS ®) product range, available in sizes to fit most passenger cars and vans, has a worldwide patent pending. Buitink Technology’s clever design makes it very quick and easy to install and remove BICS protection barriers, with no requirement for drilling or special tools. This novel, patented vehicle isolation system enables commercial, public sector and private vehicle drivers and passengers to travel more safely during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reducing the risk of infection.

The BICS product design can be adapted for virtually any passenger car, private taxi cab, chauffeur car, MPV, transporter or commercial van. There is a BICS design to separate front and rear occupants and another to provide a partition between the driver and a front passenger. Front and rear vehicle isolation protection can be easily installed in a matter of minutes using a bicycle pump or mini compressor and the supplied straps; when not required, the BICS isolation screens can be quickly deflated, removed from a vehicle, cleaned and flat packed away until needed again.

BICS ® Patent pending – Front driver and passenger separation screen


Flexible plastic film technology

All of Buitink Technology’s BICS product designs are manufactured from a thin (~0.2mm) but durable, Tuftane® thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) flexible plastic film, produced by UK manufacturer, Permali. For some years, Permali has been supplying Tuftane TPU products to Buitink Technology for a variety of other barrier and inflatable membrane product development applications.

High clarity Tuftane TFL-2Z TPU film is the grade specified for the BICS main screen panel and the integrated inflatable securing frame; when filled with air, the fully inflated clear outer ring tightly holds the isolation screen in position inside the vehicle. Depending on the type of BICS design, various built-in eyelets and fixing straps with quick release end hooks are included in the supplied system to hold the inflated screen in place, with no need to drill additional fixture points.

Tuftane elastomeric films are proven barrier materials, used in a wide variety of medical equipment and healthcare products, including personal protection equipment (PPE) such as surgical gloves, gowns, aprons, clear isolation drapes and hoods. All Tuftane TPU grades are formulated and blown film extruded by Permali, supplied to manufacturers on a roll, slit to width and rewound to order to optimise material utilisation and minimise scrap.

For BICS products, Tuftane TFL-2Z film grade was recommended by Permali as it provides the best combination of physical and mechanical properties for the application. Tuftane TFL- 2Z is a highly conformable, flexible and 100% transparent film, with high puncture and tear resistance, even as thin as 200 microns (0.2mm). Critically, for the BICS product design, Tuftane TPU films can be welded to provide the strong, impermeable, leak free, inflatable outer ring frame section of the protection screen.

Permali’s Sales and Marketing Director, Fraser Rankin commented: “From the initial contact with Buitink Technology about this application, being COVID-19 PPE related, we gave this project a high priority. Within 10 working days the Permali team identified the best Tuftane grade and thickness for the application, provided sample materials and shipped the first Tuftane TFL-2Z order of 100m by 1.5 wide rolls to The Netherlands.”    

Practical vehicle isolation protection

The BICS vehicle isolation system is simple, versatile and practical, particularly for safe commercial use, such as in a taxi. Being a totally transparent system, driver visibility is unrestricted and the Tuftane film is thin enough to enable a passenger to hear and talk to the driver and even pay as usual through the screen by mobile phone or contactless card. The Tuftane plastic film has good chemical resistance to commonly used antibacterial cleaning products and disinfectants, with no loss of clarity over repeated cleaning.

The BICS system is also proving ideal for other commercial businesses wanting to restart which need to provide personal protection from COVID-19 infection, such as car dealers wanting to offer safe vehicle viewing and test driving or for learner drivers to be able to safely go out with an instructor and driving test examiner.

BICS ® Patent pending – Front and rear passenger separation screens in a VW Transporter mini bus


Standard BICS car model size range

Biutink Technology has created a range of standard screen sizes for specific models and makes of cars, which are supplied flat-packed in a box, ready to install. Biutink Technology’s Managing Director, Rienk de Vries explains: “We spent a lot of time before the launch developing a wide range of BICS product templates in sizes to fit specific vehicle makes and models, including all the popular cars, MPVs and vans used as private taxis. You simply tell us your car model details or licence plate and we supply the right BICS size you need. We also custom make BICS products if we don’t have an existing size which will fit, or if it is for a specialty vehicle.”

The BICS system is not just for passenger cars and taxis. The patented design concept can be adapted to provide isolation screening for different types and models of public transport and passenger carrying vehicles, including buses, coaches and police vehicles.

Buitink Technology is located in Duiven, near Arnhem in The Netherlands. The company has over 70 years of expertise in developing, manufacturing and installing architectural, transportation, environmental and industrial product solutions using flexible plastics such as films, inflatable membranes and technical textiles. For more details about BICS click here.

Permali is a world class manufacturing company with over 80 years of expertise in developing advanced material solutions for leading companies in the defence, aerospace, rail, automotive, medical, specialty films and textiles markets. To find out more about Tuftane films click here.

[BICS ®: Buitink Inflatable Car Screen – worldwide patent pending – is a registered trademark of Buitink Technology, Duiven, Netherlands]

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Permali supplies materials for NHS equipment and PPE during Covid-19

Permali’s operations team has been responding quickly to meet urgent demand from our customers in the medical sector supplying the NHS with important front line equipment, while ensuring continuity of supply on other important government contracts including the Ministry of Defence. This required an innovative and dynamic response which thanks to Permali’s experience of meeting urgent operational requirements combined with advanced in-house design, development and manufacturing capabilities has allowed for quick turnaround to meet new supply demand. We have supplied our Tuftane® TPU materials for hospital bed mattress systems which are crucial in supporting the fight against Covid cases in hospitals across the nation.

Permali’s Tuftane® protective membranes are being used in solutions for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the UK and Europe, and we are continuing to meet the challenge and join the national effort of re-building the UK’s supply chain to urgently manufacture and supply high quality PPE solutions to our workers on the front line battling the current pandemic.

Permali’s track record of designing products and materials that perform and protect in accordance with the most demanding technical regulations across Medical, Defence, Automotive, Rail and Aerospace industries is world class. As always, we have ensured strict compliance with government guidelines while we meet the challenge posed by Covid-19. We would like to offer a big thank you to our workforce for their continued commitment and dedication and an even bigger thank you to the NHS for continuing to support the nation.

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Permali welcomes visit from Richard Graham MP

Permali plays host to Richard Graham MP who visited the head office and engineering facility located in Gloucester, South West England. With key links to the NHS and MOD, Permali has obtained a key worker status and continued business as usual despite the pressures of the Covid-19 situation. Richard was taken on a tour of the site to observe the cutting-edge manufacturing capabilities and learn more about Permali’s involvement in Defence, Medical, Aerospace, Rail and Automotive markets.

Richard meets with some of the key workers.


The tour was led by Managing Director, Karl Wharton, and Director of Sales & Marketing, Fraser Rankin, which provided Richard with insight on key composites and materials used in tanks, helicopters, ships and aeroplanes through to PPE, recycled plastic design panelling and Formula 1. Richard also took interest in Permali’s newly installed body temperature scanner, capable of monitoring employees’ temperatures as they enter the building, detecting and flagging possible signs of Covid-19 symptoms. After going through the wider business plans, Richard commented it was refreshing to see that despite the Covid-19 challenges, Permali is keen to invest in the future including an apprenticeship scheme and recruitment drive. Karl added “We have continued to operate during these challenging times, supported the NHS and MOD and continue to explore new markets to assist with the growth of the company. It has been a huge team effort and we have operated collaboratively and proactively to meet demanding market needs. I would like to thank Richard for his time visiting us, it was extremely positive and just the kind of news that people want to hear.”

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From left to right: Fraser Rankin, Richard Graham MP and Karl Wharton.