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Quickstep confirms key benefits in new aerospace manufacturing technique

Australian advanced materials company Quickstep Holdings Limited (ASX:QHL – "Quickstep") has identified and validated a major new opportunity for its patented composites manufacturing technology, today announcing that the 'Quickstep Process' can deliver significant advantages in the area of Binder Activation – a new processing technique with important applications in the aerospace industry.

Binder Activation is generating significant interest due to its ability to overcome many of the limitations of existing composites manufacturing techniques which utilise 'prepreg' fibres.

Prepreg fibres (so called because the textile is pre-impregnated with resin) have traditionally been used for high performance composites due to the enhanced physical properties provided by specially toughened polymers dispersed in the resin. However, prepreg materials are expensive to purchase, difficult and costly to process and require careful storage due to their limited shelf life.

Alternatives to prepregs

The increasingly popular alternatives to prepreg manufacturing are Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) and resin infusion, which use dry carbon fibre materials - which are inexpensive and easily stored - which are loosely shaped into a 'pre-form' of the required shape before being infused with resin as part of the final curing process. However the key challenge has been getting these pre-forms to hold their shape before being cured so they can be aggregated with other pre-forms to make the final part.

Stitching the pre-form into shape is one option, however the ideal solution is to add a small amount of resin (or 'Binder') to the dry fibre material and then activate the Binder with heat. This produces a durable pre-form that retains its shape and be easily handled and/or stored before final curing.

The benefits of the Quickstep Process

Importantly, Quickstep's patented composites manufacturing technology, the Quickstep Process, has been fully validated for Binder activation and has been found to provide major cost efficiencies compared to its competitors.

Chief Executive of Quickstep Holdings, Mr Philippe Odouard, commented:

"Due to Quickstep's ability to precisely control the heating and cooling of resins within the curing process, we have been able to reduce the cycle time by between 35 and 50% compared with alternative processes, which also means fewer tools are required for the Binder activation. The net benefit of these advantages means that a Quickstep-produced Binder activated part can be 40 to 60% more cost effective than a part manufactured using competing technologies," he said.

Mr Odouard said this offered enormous potential for Quickstep.

"RTM and resin infusion technologies are becoming increasingly popular for the manufacture of complex parts – such as structures where multiple pre-forms are joined into one integrated part," Mr Odouard said. "Resolving this problem of shaping pre-forms using Quickstep as the Binder activation medium allows composite manufacturers using these technologies to become more cost competitive."

"In addition, because Binder activation is classified as a non critical operation by aerospace companies, it does not need the lengthy and expensive qualification process that a new curing technology requires. Therefore, because the process has already been fully validated, it can be used for commercial industrial applications immediately and Quickstep is ready to licence its technology and supply its equipment to commence manufacturing," Mr Odouard continued.

"Given the distinct benefits of manufacturing complex aerospace parts using Binder activation, and the very significant cost savings that the Quickstep Process can present compared to our competitors, we see this as a important new avenue of growth for the Company," he said. "We believe this will be a major boost in our efforts to promote the Quickstep Process for aerospace manufacturing in the short term."

Press release issued by Quickstep Holdings Ltd. on June 15, 2010


 Contact details from our directory:
Quickstep Holdings Ltd. Aircraft Doors, Fuselage Sections, Subcontracted Composite Parts, Composite Design Consultants, Composite Manufacturing Services, Empennages, Wing Flaps, Carbon-reinforced Composites, Foam Core Composites, Laminates, Ultrasonic Testing


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