Resin Spray Transfer (RST) is an automated composite layup process, which works with the patented ‘Quickstep Process’ to rapidly cure the composite component.
The patented technology is designed to dramatically reduce manufacturing time and costs while increasing manufacturing rates and providing the all-important "Class A" automotive finish.
The automotive industry is currently undergoing a massive shift towards the use of light-weight composite components to help combat increasing fuel prices and meet pollution regulations worldwide. Quickstep is focused on a core part of this solution – weight reduction.
New regulations in the United States stipulate that all new cars from 2017 should achieve more than 36 miles per gallon. The only way to achieve this objective is through significant weight reduction - made possible by increased use of carbon fibre composites, which offer similar stiffness to steel at 60-75% lower weight.
However, a key barrier to the take-up of carbon fibre automotive parts has been the significant costs and timeframes required to achieve the necessary "Class A" exterior finish - which has traditionally seen carbon fibre only used on expensive, high performance vehicles.
Quickstep is developing the RST technology to efficiently mass produce composite parts with a Class A finish – which would make the use of carbon fibre accessible to the entire automotive industry.
In March 2011 the Company announced it had achieved its first milestone towards this objective, completing a "proof-of-concept" painted carbon fibre flat panel to Class A automotive quality using RST.
The panels have an exceptionally high quality finish for a rapid layup and curing process and exhibit material performance characteristics that are within or exceeding automotive industry standards.
The automation of the RST process has paved the way for exterior Class A automotive body panels without the need for additional expensive and labour-intensive bogging and sanding.
Quickstep's 3-year RST research and development program is expected to be completed by May 2012, with no serious technical issues encountered to date. The R&D program is being undertaken as part of the Company’s Climate Ready project, which has received a $2.6 million funding grant from AusIndustry, a department under the Australian Government Ministry of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.
Based on its early success in the development of RST, in November 2011 Quickstep was appointed to lead a joint development project supported by the German Government and leading car manufacturer Audi to develop new manufacturing solutions for composite parts for the automotive industry.
The “PRESCHE Project” is aiming to achieve cost reductions of up to 30% over existing manufacturing methods. It plans to do this by combining independent composite manufacturing technologies including RST and the Quickstep Process. The PRESCHE project commences in November 2011 and will run until October 2014.