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Brett Martin

Genevieve Lewis speaks to Nick Hughes, national sales manager for Brett Martin, on the company’s 60-year-long history and its fight to help the environment

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This 3D structure was created using Brett Martin’s Foamalux Calibre

The green, green ways of Brett Martin

Brett Martin has a proud 60-year heritage creating plastic material solutions and is one of Britain’s leading manufacturers in this area.

The Northern Irish business boasts a £166m turnover, operating with distributors across five continents and over 74 countries. Brett Martin is not only operating in the signage industry, but also the construction, agriculture, fabrication, print and display sectors.

Founded in 1958, Brett Martin has grown to have multiple facilities throughout the UK, with its head office and manufacturing plant in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Nick Hughes, national sales manager, explains: “Brett Martin has seven separate facilities throughout the UK. The head office and main manufacturing plant in Co. Antrim is circa 50 acres, making it the largest single polycarbonate extrusion facility of its kind – there are also seven separate factories extruding polycarbonate, acrylic, PET, PVC, foam PVC and styrene sheets, plus a centre of excellence for injected moulded fittings.”

Brett Martin also manufactures transparent sheets

Hughes continues: “Other manufacturing facilities include Coventry, West Midlands and Staveley, Derbyshire specialising in the manufacture of draining and rooflight systems. We have polycarbonate cutting facilities in Burscough and Thetford and separate distribution hubs in Luton for southern England and Cumbernauld for Scotland and north west England.”

And it was all green

Perhaps one of the most admirable aspects of this company is its environmental efforts. Last year, Brett Martin entered into a power purchase agreement with Lightsource BP, meaning that its plant now used solar energy, on top of its small wind turbine, which had already been in place since 2011.

“Brett Martin is committed to manufacturing its products with as small a carbon footprint as possible,” says Hughes, before continuing: “In fact, as part of our environmental strategy, we have set ourselves targets to minimise the impact of the company’s operations on the environment.”

Brett Martin is committed to manufacturing its products with as small a carbon footprint as possible

The targets include achieving 50% renewable energy by 2023, recycling 100% of all post-production waste, as well as ensuring that 100% of recycling of all recyclable waste materials does indeed take place.

Hughes continues to explain how it is already working on one of Brett Martin’s targets, through the use of its solar and wind energy. “With combined wind and solar energy initiatives already in place, the company currently receives 25% of its energy requirements from renewable sources,” says Hughes. “In March 2018, Brett Martin entered into a power purchase agreement with Lightsource BP, providing a direct connection to 6.4MWp solar farm which provides 14% of the company’s energy needs. This initiative provides enough clean solar energy to power the equivalent of over 1,600 homes and an estimated saving of 3,700 tonnes of carbon emissions each year, equal to taking nearly 1,800 cars of the road.”

In 2011, Brett Martin was one of the first UK manufacturers to install a wind turbine, which now delivers 11% of our energy

He adds: “In 2011, Brett Martin was one of the first UK manufacturers to install a wind turbine, which now delivers 11% of our energy. Our partnership with Lightsource BP more than doubles the company’s renewable footprint and also highlights its commitment to environmentally sensitive manufacturing practices.”

Sign and Display

Brett Martin works with major print manufacturers, including HP, AGFA, EFI, Mutoh and Jetrix/Inktec, to make sure that its products have been validated for use with their machines. It does this through an Approved Partner Scheme. “Brett Martin has been a supplier to the signage and display industry for over 35 years,” says Hughes.

“Initially, the company launched a range of white Foamalux PVC foam, which came about following extensive research into colour pigmentation. With Foamalux White, outstanding print clarity and quality can be achieved – the finely balanced blend of pigments in this substrate provides a perfectly clean, crisp printing surface resulting in a noticeably brighter and truer print finish.”

The Northern Irish company works with manufacturers to make sure its products work in tune with print equipment

The company’s work with UV stability and optimised colour reproduction led to the development of new products, which includes Foamalux Colour. This meant that sign-makers could work with 12 self-coloured options. Another product includes Foamalux Ultra, which has a co-extruded gloss top surface, giving improved UV protection and stability. It is available in white and six standard colours.

Race to the top

Brett Martin’s environmental efforts do not stop at the manufacturing process, but also involves the products themselves. Hughes explains: “As the drive for more environmentally friendly products increased, Brett Martin looked to use the co-extrusion techniques that were perfected with Foamalux Ultra to develop the Foamalux Xtra range. This product is available from 3mm up to 19mm thick and comprises an outer surface of virgin white foam PVC with a central core of up to 80% recycled material.”

Most recently, Brett Martin has added the Foamalux Calibre, which can be used for free-standing applications and fabricated parts, as the product works very well with routing and can be screwed or bonded together to create 3D items. The company also offers transparent sheet products, including Marlon FS Polycarbonate, Marpet-g FS PETg, Marpet-a FS Apet and Marcryl FS Acrylic.

“Development time for products does vary and often requires major capital expenditure in both machinery and tooling to deliver the result,” says Hughes. “Brett Martin has a dedicated R&D facility – the central hub for development – which consists of teams of product specialists, material scientists and technical engineers who work with our production managers, material suppliers and machinery suppliers in the development process.”

Concluding with yet more environmental efforts, Hughes highlights a project that really stood out using Brett Martin products: “Our polycarbonate brand, Marlon FS, was used to create a lightweight windscreen on a recently released Electric Assisted Vehicle. This new generation vehicle was created to assist with reducing inner city emission as it has true zero emission credibility and is constructed from recyclable material. Our product was chosen due to its robust and lightweight properties. We were delighted to assist in this project, as low-emission and sustainable practices are at the heart of what we do as well.”

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