Quickstep Holdings will lead a joint development project supported by the German Government and car manufacturer Audi to develop new manufacturing solutions for the cost effective volume production of composite parts for the automotive industry.
According to Quickstep, the “PRESCHE Project” is aiming to achieve cost reductions of up to 30 per cent over existing manufacturing costs for the production of light-weight composite parts for the automotive industry. The project plans to do this by combining independent composite manufacturing technologies including Quickstep’s Resin Spray Transfer (RST) technology and their patented Process – an out-of-autoclave technology that uses Heat Transfer Fluid in fluid-filled trays to rapidly cure advanced composites.
Quickstep’s Managing Director, Mr Philippe Odouard, said the launch of the PRESCHE program in Germany represented an enormous opportunity for the Company to progress its RST technology in partnership with a high quality group of partners including Audi.
“We are very much looking forward to working with our partners in the PRESCHE program to further develop the RST technology and Quickstep Process for the automotive industry,” he said. “The success of this program will position us to target a very significant medium term opportunity for composites in the car industry.”
“This has the potential to provide a very substantial second growth front for the Company alongside our existing activities in the Aerospace sector, where our major focus is on the imminent commencement of manufacturing of composite components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program.”
Quickstep explains that the PRESCHE project commences this month and will run until October 2014. The program is expected to run in parallel with other Quickstep RST developments focused on the early industrialisation of the technology for specific automotive requirements.
The ability to rapidly manufacture and cure composite parts to A-Grade surface finish for the automotive industry without the need and expense of traditional autoclaves presents a significant opportunity for Quickstep. The ultimate goal is high volume, low cost composite component manufacturing so the industry can deliver lighter vehicles with reduced fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Quickstep say this is being driven by legislative change globally such as the new regulations expected to be introduced in the United States by 2017 requiring all new cars to operate on a 6.5 litres per 100km efficiency. Several major car manufacturers have already launched or announced plans to launch carbon cars.
The PRESCHE project, in which Quickstep’s RST component represents approximately $1.2m of the budget, will build on the achievements of their RST Development program in Australia, which is due to be completed by May 2012. This program is being funded as part of the Australian Government’s Climate Ready Program.
Quickstep explained that, in March, Quickstep completed the first “proof-of-concept” painted carbon fibre flat panel to A-Class automotive standards using RST. The panels have an exceptionally high quality finish for a rapid layup and curing process and exhibit material performance characteristics that are within or exceed automotive industry standards.
The project consortium comprises Quickstep, Audi AG, Coriolis Composites, EDAG, KG, the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology, project group integral light weight construction, and the University of Stuttgart, Institute of Aircraft Design. The project is supported within the framework program ‘research for tomorrow’s production’ (“Forschung für die Produktion von morgen”) by the ministry of education and research (BMBF, Förderkennzeichen 02PJ2050).
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