Australian composites company Quickstep Technologies is working with Composites Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM) to identify parts for the Airbus A350 that could be made using Quickstep's liquid-based composites curing process.
Quickstep has signed a memorandum of understanding with CTRM to evaluate Quickstep's out-of-autoclave process to enhance CTRM's composite manufacturing operations. CTRM is the fifth-largest supplier of composite parts to Airbus.
The Quickstep curing process uses a lightweight rigid mould suspended in heat transfer liquids. Liquid circulates in a low-pressure environment with a flexible membrane maintaining constant pressure and heat, while vibration in the circulating liquid forces out trapped air and gases.
The process requires 25-30% less time to produce composite parts than traditional autoclave methods and is particularly efficient for thick, tapered parts, such as spars and wing skins, as well as for producing complex parts in one cycle such as flaps and elevators, says chief executive Philippe Odouard.
It is also efficient for honeycomb-sandwich parts, the area which is being explored with CTRM, as the Quickstep process does not crush the part and results in better bonding.
Quickstep has an NH90 parts development agreement with Eurocopter and is hopeful of a US government grant to qualify parts for the Lockheed Martin F-35 using the Quickstep process following a successful research project with Vector Composites.
Quickstep has invested A$10 million ($8.4 million) in a new AS9100-accredited facility at North Coogee, Western Australia for the production of parts using its Quickstep process and traditional autoclave production.