Advanced composites manufacturer Quickstep has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMCG) to develop a ‘low cost carbon composite fender’ for the European automotive market.
Carbon fibre composites enjoy a number of advantages over steel, providing significant weight reduction, improved performance and excellent corrosion resistance. However, the adoption of composite materials in the automotive industry has been limited by the high production cost, particularly for geometrically complex parts such as fenders.
At present, carbon fibre fenders are manufactured using a labour-intensive process where the layup is carried out manually due to the complexity of the design. The long cure cycle required to cure parts inside the autoclave also contributes to the high cost of these parts.
David Marino, the CEO and Managing Director of Quickstep said the project company will bring to the project its capabilities in developing advanced composite solutions, providing its advanced composites technologies to manufacture composite parts using its patented Qure and RST processes.
He said the project could open up a pathway for for the development of additional composite automotive parts with similar levels of complexity.
“We are very pleased to receive this AMGC grant,” Mr Marino added.
“The outcomes from this project will overcome some of the major impediments in the uptake of carbon fibre parts by reducing cycle time, optimising material system selection and utilising smart designs as part of a new composite fabrication process.”
AMCG Managing Director Dr Jens Goennemann said phase one of the project will run for a period of six months in cooperation with Deakin University’s Carbon Nexus Research Centre for carbon fibre and composites, who will provide expertise in materials development and process simulation and validation to the AMGC project.
“This investment directly reflects how a local manufacturer and their collaborators, uses their technology leadership to provide a point of difference in the global marketplace,” he added.
“We are very honoured to be able to play a role in getting this high- value project off the ground which can make a direct impact to our economy. This is the second substantial investment into Geelong carbon fibre expertise in past six months by the AMGC.”