The A$75 million AusIndustry Climate Ready Programme has been instigated to facilitate the mass production of a new generation of lightweight, low-emission vehicles and aircraft. It is part of Australian Federal Government’s Clean Business Australia initiative.
Provided over a three year period, the funds, together with equal sums provided by Quickstep, will be used for the development and commercialisation of Quickstep's Resin Spray Transmission (RST) composite technology, which is targeted at the aerospace and automotive markets
The aim of the RST technology, which is further development of the existing Quickstep composite moulding process, is to reduce both the material and labour costs associated with the production of lightweight, composite components while at the same time improving cycle times to the level required by the automotive industry.
RST involves hot resin being sprayed directly onto a chilled mould. This reduction in temperature prevents the laminate from being wet out at this stage. The next step is to place a dry fibre pre-pack or preform onto the tool that is covered with the chilled resin and apply a vacuum. Then the actual curing process can commence. This involves heating the resin on the mould face so that the reinforcement is wet-out. Finally, the existing Quickstep process is used to compact, form and cure the composite part in the mould.
“The benefits of using advanced composites have been known for many years, however the traditional barriers to a more widespread adoption of these materials in mass production has been low production rates and high costs," says Quickstep’s Chief Executive Officer, Philippe Odouard. "Our RST manufacturing technology has the potential to break these barriers and, as a result, could create a paradigm shift in how all types of vehicles are designed, manufactured and ultimately perform.”
“We are extremely pleased to have received the support of the Australian Federal Government to develop our Resin Spray Technology which may ultimately improve vehicle fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions,” he adds.
Quickstep produces aerospace-grade composite components using both conventional autoclave-based methods and its proprietary Quickstep process. The Quickstep process and equipment is also available to third parties via licensing and joint venture arrangements.