Carbon composites manufacturer Quickstep (Sydney, Australia) announced on Aug. 12 that it is fast-tracking commercialzation of its patented Resin Spray Transfer (RST) technology for automotive application. This new technology, developed in Australia, was partly funded by an AusIndustry Climate Ready Grant.
Quickstep says its RST technology meets the industry’s three key manufacturing objectives — it allows strong vehicle parts to be produced at high speed, low cost and with a high-quality finish.
This "robotized" process fully automates production of lightweight carbon fiber composite car panels so they can be made in minutes and at very low cost compared to other, more capital-intensive methods. RST is said to enable car parts to be mass-produced with a high-quality finish direct off the mold.
Quickstep managing director Philippe Odouard says, “In the emerging emission-legislated world, every leading car manufacturer is aiming to develop cars that are lighter, more affordable and consume less fuel. This can be achieved using Quickstep’s Resin Spray Transfer technology. We are delighted to have demonstrated RST’s technical success by repeatedly manufacturing carbon fiber composite panels with our pioneering automatic plant in Sydney. It delivers car parts with a Class-A surface finish, without the need for the ‘re-work’ that is commonly required with the manufacture of carbon fibre automotive panels.
“We plan to manufacture exterior parts ourselves and also to license our technology, enabling auto makers to produce carbon fiber car panels with the strength of steel and half the weight. We have delivered two carbon fibere test panels to several carmakers to demonstrate the RST technology’s value. The price competitiveness of RST compared to other technologies is attracting attention, and has led to requests for quotes. We expect to manufacture parts in small quantities within the next few months and to increase to larger quantities shortly thereafter. ”
About two-thirds of the energy needed to move a car is determined by weight, so the substantial weight savings available from using ultralight, ultrastrong carbon fiber 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.
Quickstep says parts manufactured using the RST technology have shown that they maintain surface finish, even after the extreme environmental aging tests required for high-end super cars. They reportedly do not show print through or other defects after painting and aging.
Quickstep says it is pursuing large-volume production tests in cooperation with industrial partners in Germany, including Audi.
For more on RST, see "Market Outlook: Surplus in carbon fiber's future?"