Vector Composites granted license to use Quickstep process

Vector is the lead contractor and Quickstep is the principal subcontractor to focus on process qualification of BMI and epoxy/carbon fiber composite materials using the Quickstep Process for application to the F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

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Advanced materials company Quickstep Holdings Ltd. (North Coogee, Australia; Dayton, Ohio, USA) on Oct. 12 announced that Vector Composites Inc. (Dayton, Ohio) has been granted a license to use the Quickstep Process for development and manufacturing of advanced composite components. Vector is the first licensee of the Quickstep Process in North America.

The Quickstep Process is an out-of-autoclave (OOA) polymer composite curing process that uses lower-cost material technologies for the high-speed manufacture of advanced composite, bonded metal and fiber metal laminated structural components.

The licensing agreement allows Vector to develop and produce composite structural parts using the Quickstep Process for aerospace and defense customers in the North American market from its Dayton, Ohio, facility.

Initially, Vector will lease time on a Quickstep machine from Quickstep Composites LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Quickstep, located adjacent to the Vector facilities in Dayton. However, the non-exclusive license agreement includes thresholds that would trigger the purchase of a Quickstep manufacturing machine by Vector, together with the payment of associated royalties and service fees.

Vector and Quickstep were recently awarded a major U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (ìSBIRî) Phase II program, expected to total about $4 million (USD) in funding over a 27-month period. Vector is the lead contractor and Quickstep is the principal subcontractor to conduct a joint research program that will focus on process qualification of bismaleimide and epoxy/carbon fiber composite materials using the Quickstep Process for application to the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

Industrial partners supporting the contract include Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and ITT Integrated Structures. Vector and Quickstep have previously collaborated on two Phase I SBIR projects for the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Becoming a formal licensee of the Quickstep Process is an important addition to our portfolio of out-of-autoclave technologies," Vector CEO Lyle Dunbar said. "Over the past several years working closely with Quickstep, we have identified a number of advantages in the Process that we can capitalize on to bring value to our current and future customers."

Quickstep CEO and managing director Philippe Odouard added, "This signing of this license agreement with Vector marks a hugely significant milestone in bringing our innovative Quickstep Process to commercial reality, especially in the strategic North American market. Our previous and current work with Vector has demonstrated the value of our technology, and we are now looking forward to contributing to Vector's growth as they offer our technical solution to the aerospace and defense marketplace."