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Quickstep Holdings Limited has taken a major step towards commercialising its patented „Quickstep Process‟ for composites manufacturing, today announcing it has developed a production plant that will be available for customers to purchase as a „turn-key‟ off-the-shelf product.
The new plant, called a QS-E250, represents Quickstep‟s first commercial production-ready machine, and has been designed with a number of key enhancements to provide customers with a standardised product that offers a streamlined automated manufacturing solution.
In addition, the new production model has been designed to enable high-level craftsmanship; high reliability; ease of use and maintenance; as well as lower costs and faster cycle times.
Managing Director of Quickstep, Mr Philippe Odouard, said the machine is expected to bring significant cost efficiencies and enhanced performance characteristics for aerospace, defence, automotive and ballistics manufacturing.
“Quickstep‟s patented out-of-autoclave technology has been demonstrated to deliver a number of significant benefits in composites manufacturing, including low capital cost for set-up, significantly faster and more energy-efficient manufacturing, improved material properties of the end product, and the ability to produce complex parts as one integrated unit – which could offer major cost savings by eliminating bolts and rivets,” he said.
“This new QS-E250 machine provides customers with the ability to purchase a ready-made industrialised Quickstep plant that can then be coupled to a Quickstep tooling solution to suit individual customer needs.
“The new machine is cheaper, has a significantly simpler operating system and offers increased flexibility for different processing applications and cure cycles than earlier plants. Customers can order multiple machines that have a standardised interface and operating profile to deliver a consistent and reliable manufacturing solution across their operations.
“This machine represents the coming of age of Quickstep‟s manufacturing technology, enabling it to be introduced into manufacturing facilities around the world in a „turn-key‟ form ready to connect to the many Quickstep tool solutions. In essence, we aim to provide a machine that offers a range of proven manufacturing „recipes‟ or formulas our customers can follow to meet their specific manufacturing requirements,” Mr Odouard continued.
The patented Quickstep Process is an „out-of-autoclave‟ composites manufacturing technique that uses a unique fluid-based technology for the curing or even partial curing and joining of composite materials. It works by trapping the laminate between a free floating rigid or semi-rigid mould that floats in a Heat Transfer Fluid (HTF). The mould and laminate are separated from the circulating HTF by a flexible membrane or bladder. The HTF can then be rapidly heated and then cooled to cure the laminate.
The new machine operates on the same technical principles and has the same basic features as past models, however key enhancements include more precise control over the ramp rates and a faster response to exothermic reaction.
Philippe Odouard said Quickstep would provide customised tools to meet each customer‟s specific manufacturing requirements, as well as advice on curing cycles and optimising manufacturing techniques.
The QS-E250 was developed with the support of a German-based company that has significant expertise in developing heating and cooling equipment for the moulding industry, and substantial experience in building custom-made manufacturing equipment.
Following the successful development of this prototype model, Quickstep will now start taking orders for the QS-E250 plant, with first orders expected to come from customers already in discussions with Quickstep.
Technical specifications for the QS-E250 machine are:
• 250kW heating capacity
• 500kW cooling capacity in total
• Flow rate up to 60m³/h within the complete temperature range (15°C – 205°C)
• Operating pressure range: 5-80kPa with pressure accuracy of ±1kPa
• Heating rates up to 10K/min
• Ramp control with average or dynamic controlling
• Cooling rates up to 10K/min
• 4,000 litre HTF storage tank
• Storage tank is ready for additional H/C Units
• Footprint H/C Unit: 2.4m x 5m x 2.1m
• Footprint Storage Tank: 1.6m x 1.8m x 3m
More information : www.quickstep.com.au