Carbon composites manufacturer Quickstep Technologies is fast-tracking commercialisation of its patented Resin Spray Transfer (RST) technology, set to revolutionise the global automotive industry. The technology was launched recently by Minister for Innovation, Senator the Hon Kim Carr at Quickstep’s Bankstown Airport facility.
Research and development of Quickstep’s RST technology was partly funded by a $2.5 million Climate Ready Grant from the Australian Federal Government.
Quickstep’s RST technology meets the auto manufacturing industry’s three key manufacturing objectives of high speed, low cost and high quality finish in the production of strong vehicle parts.
The innovative ‘robotised’ process fully automates production of lightweight carbon fibre composite car panels so they can be made in minutes and at very low cost compared to other, more capital-intensive methods. RST enables car parts to be mass-produced with a high quality finish direct off the mould, a major improvement on existing carbon fibre processes.
According to Quickstep managing director, Philippe Odouard, leading car manufacturers in the emerging emission-legislated world are aiming to develop cars that are lighter, more affordable and consume less fuel. Quickstep’s Resin Spray Transfer technology helps them achieve the desired outcomes.
The RST technology has been successfully demonstrated by repeatedly manufacturing carbon fibre composite panels at Quickstep’s pioneering automatic plant in Sydney. Car parts are delivered with a Class-A surface finish with no need for ‘rework’ commonly required with the manufacture of carbon fibre automotive panels.
Quickstep plans to manufacture exterior parts and also to licence its technology, enabling auto makers to produce carbon fibre car panels with the strength of steel and half the weight. The price competitiveness of RST compared to other technologies is attracting attention, and has led to requests for quotes.
The use of lightweight materials in cars is increasingly a battleground for car manufacturers, driven by legislation in Europe and the US to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Given that about two-thirds of the energy needed to move a car is determined by weight, the substantial weight savings available from using ultra-light, ultra-strong carbon fibre composite panels allow engines to be smaller, reducing fuel consumption and paving the way for mass adoption of affordable hybrid, electric and conventional cars with composite components.
Parts manufactured using the RST technology have shown that they maintain surface finish, even after the extreme environmental ageing tests required for high-end ‘super cars’.
Quickstep is in discussion with several leading global automotive manufacturers with a view to manufacturing panels using RST technology under licence. The company is pursuing large-volume production tests in co-operation with industrial partners in Germany, including Audi.