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Quickstep technology comes up trumps

Next step: A project involving Australian company Quickstep has been hailed a success.

Carbon-fibre specialist wins accolade from Germany development program

20 Jul 2015

AUSTRALIAN carbon-fibre specialist Quickstep Holdings' patented technology has come up trumps after a four-year development project in Germany.

The final report submitted to project participants said the PRESCHE project had demonstrated that Quickstep’s technology could produce paintable Class A surfaces at a lower cost than the autoclave process in volumes of up to 10,000 units a year.

The project was funded by the German government and it succeeded in producing a demonstrator roof system for Audi – one of the project participants – for the Audi A1 hatch.

Quickstep chief executive officer David Marino last week told GoAuto that the Audi roof would not be a two-piece system, but would be a skin with strengthening ribs moulded in.

Announcing the final result of the project today, he said the experience of spearheading the PRESCHE project alongside several German automotive industry participants had been invaluable.

Mr Marino said the project had helped broaden Quickstep’s technical knowledge and expertise in providing cost-effective production systems for automotive products.

Other participants in the PRESCHE project included Coriolis Composites, a French company specialising in robotic cells for placing carbon-fibre into moulds, the Fraunhofer chemicals and resins group, the EDAG automation company and the University of Stuttgart’s aerospace design institute.

"The project highlighted the capability and benefits of our industry–disruptive technologies, validating our Phase 1 automotive strategy to focus initially on lower volume opportunities,” Mr Marino said.

“This has assisted in securing Quickstep's first two automotive contracts, with manufacturing expected to commence in early 2016."As previously reported by GoAuto, the first production contract awarded to Quickstep came from an Australian car-maker for up to 1000 engine parts, commencing in early 2016.

These will be produced at a new $5.6 million plant being built on the Waurn Ponds campus of Deakin University in Geelong, Victoria.

It will be adjacent to the new factory built by Carbon Revolution, the global leader in one-piece carbon-fibre wheels. Carbon Revolution supplied the carbon-fibre wheels fitted to the Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R.

Quickstep has also been named as the preferred supplier of carbon-fibre panels to Thales for use on the Hawkei protected light vehicle being developed for a major Australian defence contract.

While Thales has been named as the preferred supplier to the contract, no final decision has yet been made. Under the contract, up to 1300 vehicles and trailers will be supplied.

Quickstep has developed production techniques that allow the use of dry carbon-fibres – no pre-impregnation is necessary – when the fibre is being loaded into the moulds by robots.

It has also patented a unique curing process that does not require autoclaves, large ovens that bake the parts under high pressure.

The mould, the resin and the fibre are inserted into a bladder which then has the air sucked out of it, pressing the resin and fibre into the mould. Curing is done by the application of hot fluids to the outside of the bladder.

The process is suitable only for flat or mostly flat panels like bonnets, door, skins or roof panels.

The process time is cut by around 50 per cent and the curing time for the resin is cut by 40 per cent, making it more suitable for production of automotive parts.

Investors pushed up Quickstep’s share price by more than 10 per cent this morning, pushing the shares to 23 cents.

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