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Advanced carbon fiber composite manufacturer Quickstep Technologies (Sydney, Australia) has opened its new manufacturing facility at Sydney's Bankstown Airport. The facility will supply components to aerospace companies Northrop Grumman Corporation and Lockheed Martin.

PlasticsToday Staff

June 22, 2012

3 Min Read
Advanced composites manufacturing arrives in Australia's eastern seaboard

Advanced carbon fiber composite manufacturer Quickstep Technologies (Sydney, Australia) has opened its new manufacturing facility at Sydney's Bankstown Airport. The facility will supply components to aerospace companies Northrop Grumman Corporation and Lockheed Martin.

Opened June 22 by NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and Gary Ervin, President of Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems Division, the facility houses high‐tech equipment to manufacture carbon fiber components that are typically half the weight of a comparably strong steel part. "This facility represents a quantum leap in Australian advanced composites manufacturing, strengthening our ability to deliver product and technologies to global industries that increasingly source competitively around the world. We are grateful to the NSW government that substantially participated in the funding of this development," said Philippe Odouard, Managing Director of Quickstep.

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Aussie firm scores more part orders from Joint Strike Fighter program.

The ability to manufacture high‐technology composites has enabled Quickstep to win major aerospace contracts in internationally competitive tenders. Quickstep has already commenced the first phase of commercial production of F‐35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter parts. This work is expected to generate up to $700 million over 20 years.

The F‐35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program is the largest military aerospace program in the world, currently valued at in excess of US$300 billion worldwide. The Company delivered its first production JSF part in October 2011 and commenced serial production of flying parts in March 2012.

Quickstep expects to secure agreements to manufacture more JSF parts before the end of 2012, increasing the variety of different parts being manufactured. In fact on the same day as the opening Quickstep announced that it has secured a second long term agreement (LTA) with Northrop Grumman covering production of "Group 2" JSF components until 2020. Group 2 parts represent more complex aircraft components, including portions of the main F-35 structure and supports. The first purchase order for Group 2 parts is expected to be received in July 2012.

Furthermore, in March 2012, Quickstep was selected by Lockheed Martin to supply composite wing flaps for the C‐130J Hercules military transport aircraft ‐ valued at $75 million to $100 million to Quickstep over five years. Further substantial opportunities are under discussion now that its Bankstown facilities are coming on line.

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Quickstep will also conduct research and development to license its unique and patented Quickstep Process composites manufacturing process for the production of high‐volume A‐grade finished composite components for automotive and specialist thick parts such as spars and wing skins for large defense and commercial aircraft.

The company has a significant opportunity to earn income through equipment supply, services and license fees. New emissions legislation in the US and Europe drastically reduces the allowed carbon dioxide emission per kilometer, with objectives that can only be met with weight reduction. This has triggered a significant automotive sector interest in carbon fiber cars, and Quickstep is already working with Audi in a major research and development program aimed at delivering high surface finish, low cost fast processing of carbon fiber composite, together with specialized resins, particularly adapted to the automotive industry. The Quickstep Process can develop high quality finish, inexpensive, lightweight, strong composites manufactured rapidly and in volume that can contribute significantly to fuel efficiency, as composites are much lighter than metal components.

The Bankstown facility comprises a 4000 square meter hangar with $15 million of the latest state of the art manufacturing equipment and infrastructure along with a 1250 square meter office, which now becomes Quickstep's headquarters. Quickstep has substantial additional capacity for further expansion.-[email protected]

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