Advanced composites to the world

From a single site in Western Australia to an organisation with multiple international facilities, Quickstep Technologies shows how Australian expertise can build global success.

Quickstep Technologies, the aerospace manufacturing division of Quickstep Holdings Limited, is at the forefront of advanced composites manufacturing and technology development and is the largest independent aerospace-grade advanced composite manufacturer in Australia.

General Manager, Business Development and External Relations, Carl de Koning, said Quickstep manufactures using both traditional autoclave and leading-edge out-of-autoclave manufacturing technologies to produce advanced composite components and assemblies for the aerospace and automotive sectors.

“Quickstep Holdings is an Australian-listed company, which manufactures advanced composite in Australia and develops advanced composite manufacturing solutions for the global market,” he said.

“Traditionally, advanced composites have been used extensively in the aerospace sector, but we’re increasingly seeing a shift in other industry sectors, such as automotive, where increasing emissions regulations are forcing manufacturers to find lightweight solutions to meet emission targets.”

Quickstep Holdings develops and manufactures advanced composite products at its two Australian operations in Bankstown, NSW and Waurn Ponds in Victoria. Advanced composites use high-strength materials, such as carbon fibre, combined with specialised performance resins. These materials are used extensively in the aerospace and defence industries, and are increasingly being used in cars, particularly in high-performance and electric vehicles.

The first major composites manufacturing agreement signed by Quickstep Technologies was with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman in November 2009 for the manufacture of parts for the international F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. 

Quickstep now partners with some of the world’s largest aerospace and defence organisations, including the U.S. Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and Thales.

Technological innovation

In addition to its headquarters in Australia, the company has a manufacturing and R&D and Technology Centre at Deakin University’s campus in the Geelong region and a demonstration centre in Munich, Germany, providing customers with access to Quickstep’s manufacturing capabilities and solutions in the European market.

The company has been designing and industrialising its composite manufacturing processes since 2001 in Australia and is a leading innovator of advanced composites technology and manufacturing solutions. Quickstep has developed and patented a number of advanced process technologies, including its Qure system for composites curing and its Resin Spray Transfer (RST) process.

“Innovation is critical for us. It keeps us at the forefront of the technology curve, so we can continue to offer advanced manufacturing solutions to our customers,” de Koning said.

“We’ve recently moved into our new global technology centre at Deakin University, specifically to take advantage of the university’s research capabilities and to assist us in continuing to develop new next generation materials, concepts and processes.”

Quickstep’s advanced process technologies provide its customers with lower cost manufacturing solutions for niche volume production, due to the application of lower-cost capital and tooling solutions, combined with optimised material and process development.

This innovative approach to composites manufacturing netted two awards for Quickstep in 2015 – the National Defence Innovation Award and the Premier's NSW Export Award for Manufacturing.

A global reach

Quickstep Technologies currently operates its aerospace manufacturing business, from an advanced manufacturing facility at Bankstown Airport in New South Wales, with equipment, expertise and capabilities that are unrivalled by any other independent advanced composites manufacturer in Australia.

The EMDG scheme has provided support to Quickstep since 2002, with a total of seven successful applications totalling more than $620,000 during that time.

“EMDG support allows us to reach into the key markets overseas, where the major aerospace and automotive manufacturing companies are domiciled,” de Koning said.

“Being able to attend trade shows, international conferences and industry events in these markets is crucial in meeting the right people and displaying our technology and what it can do.”

In addition to manufacturing parts for the JSF program, Quickstep is also supplying parts for the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft program.  Quickstep Technologies is actively targeting further manufacturing contracts, backed by its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility and strong aerospace manufacturing team.