How The Quickstep Process Works

How does it work?

The Quickstep Process changes the way advanced composites are manufactured by using a unique fluid-based technology for curing the composite materials.

It works by positioning 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 Benefits

Out-of-Autoclave Processing

  • Lower capital costs – typically around two-thirds of the cost of an equivalent capacity autoclave
  • Lower energy consumption for heating/cooling of the laminate
  • Eliminates the need for compressed air or nitrogen use
  • Only 1 to 4 psi operating pressures on parts
  • No oven size restrictions

Liquid Heat Transfer = Faster Cycle Times

  • Demonstrated reduction in cure cycle times from 50-90% compared with autoclave and oven using commercial prepregs
  • Very accurate part temperature control
  • Enhanced repeatability in cure cycles – evenly distributed heat-up and cool-down
  • Rapid heating aids full resin flow through and between laminate layers for improved inter-laminar properties and improved surface quality
  • Limited exotherm (when the material generate its own heat from the chemical reaction) even in laminates that are 2 inches thick

Improved Productivity in Operations

  • Enables large scale manufacturing volumes using fast cycle, multiple tool processing
  • Suited to integration into “Lean Cells”
  • Lower tooling costs
    • Fewer moulds required to meet rate
    • No complex backing structure, resulting in lower costs per mould
  • Full traceability of parts to cure cycles
  • No need to delay the commencement of curing while waiting for other parts, as occurs with large batch autoclaves
  • Lower development costs due to faster iteration of experiments

Flexible Processing

  • Curing of conventional autoclave or oven-style pre-pregs, including phenolics
  • Liquid Resin Infusion, such as VARTM, SCRIMP or light RTM
  • Resin Film Infusion (RFI)
  • Fibre-Metal Laminates

Improved Cored Structures

  • Low pressure processing allows for the use of lighter weight cores
  • Cured honeycomb structures have less print-through of the honeycomb cell patterns, but with improved adherence at the bond points
  • Low resin viscosity improves surface wetting of foam cores