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Themis Facilities Showcase – The Autoclave – High Pressure, High Heat, High Tech

As part of Year of The Themis Apprentice, we’re showcasing the state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge equipment our Themis Apprentices


At Themis at Burnley College we pride ourselves on giving all our learners real-world industry skills and knowledge – which they can only gain by using the best equipment industry has to offer.

Today we’re looking at our autoclave – one of the biggest you’ll find in any College around the whole of the UK.

In it most simple terms an autoclave is like a pressure cooker. It can heat materials while simultaneously putting them under an enormous amount of atmospheric pressure.

Autoclaves have multiple uses throughout industry and you’ve probably seen a miniature version at your dentist – because it can be used to steralise medical equipment.

However, ours wouldn’t fit on anyone’s desktop. Our autoclave is used in the process of creating composite materials.

Composite materials are things like carbon fibre which is made from tiny individual strands of material woven together and moulded in to complex shapes.

That’s where the autoclave comes in. Using the pressure and heat it can turn these ingredients in to some of the strongest, lightest materials around. So strong and light are composites they’re used aircraft, Formula 1 cars and even spacecraft.

Composite expert and Engineering Lecturer at Burnley College Mark Webber has a wealth of experience in the world of composites: he has made carbon fibre wings for Formula 1 at Ferrari and runs his own drone piloting business, building his own craft from composite materials – regularly capturing footage for film and TV companies around the world.


“It’s a privilege to share my experience and expertise every day with the composite engineers of tomorrow.
“It’s a constantly evolving industry and I’m excited to show everyone who joins the sessions the huge range of career possibilities composites engineering can offer, as well as the impact it can have on the environment.”

Mark Webber

Engineering Lecturer

If you want to work with industry-leading experts like Mark, train with equipment and excel in whatever career you choose – talk to Themis today. See our vacancies page for exciting career opportunities https://www.burnley.ac.uk/themis-home/apprentice-vacancies/


Jude Pearson

Former pupil at St John Fisher and Thomas More RC High School