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Quickstep talking with OEMs

Forward step: Quickstep has announced its new CEO, former Futuris Automotive COO David Marino.

Carbon-fibre specialist hires top industry exec to lead new automotive division

5 Feb 2015

AUSTRALIAN carbon-fibre leader Quickstep Holdings is negotiating with around 10 automotive parts suppliers that are interested in licensing Quickstep’s patented carbon-fibre technologies.

The news comes only months after Quickstep announced the creation of an automotive division to be located on the Waurn Ponds campus of Deakin University in Geelong.

The company’s automotive plans have been strengthened by the recruitment of Futuris Automotive’s chief operating officer David Marino, who will become Quickstep’s chief executive officer on February 15.

Documents lodged with the Australian Stock exchange indicate that he will be paid a base salary of $450,000 plus short-term and long-term incentives that could more than double that annual pay.

In the December quarterly report released on Tuesday, Quickstep directors revealed the company was in discussions with parts-makers interested in its patented curing system and also the technique it uses to achieve a rapid lay-up cycle while achieving a Class A automotive finish.

A spokesman said there were “10 or so” companies considering adoption of Quickstep’s patented technologies.

80 center imageLeft: Quickstep CEO David Marino.The lay-up and curing technologies have been proven in a project supported by the German government and Volkswagen Group subsidiary Audi.

Quickstep has automated the lay-up process, eliminating much manual labour and more reliably evacuating gases that can be trapped in the carbon-fibres during other processes.

The patented curing process is cheaper than the traditional autoclave system and gives better temperature control, allowing faster curing.

Quickstep is in the final phase of customer acceptance for its first commercial plant. The plant has been built in Munich, Germany, for ORPE Technologiya, which plans to make 6x4 metre parts for use on satellites.

Quickstep’s expertise has been developed with a focus on flat parts, particularly aeroplane flaps and ailerons, and on shortening the production process.

The company currently makes wing flaps for use on the Joint Strike Fighter and on the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules.

The C-130J contract is running at three ship-sets a month, each ship-set comprising four flaps each with more than 200 parts.

The work on JSF parts is done under contracts written with Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and Marand Precision Engineering.

The new automotive division will focus on reducing production cycle times so that many more parts can be made each day.

Quickstep has been named as the preferred suppliers of bonnets and other panels to the Hawkei armoured light vehicles being developed by French defence contractor Thales at its Bendigo plant.

Should Thales win the contract in 2015 for the supply of 1300 of these vehicles over the next four years, Quickstep estimates revenues would exceed $8 million over that period.

Revenues from the current aerospace contracts are running at about $26 million a year, more than double the $13 million it booked in the whole of the 2013-2014 financial year.

Quickstep currently has $56 million of contracts on its books for completion in the next two years.

The company's shares closed slightly higher at 22.5 cents on Tuesday, valuing the company at $89 million.

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