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Quickstep Teams with Audi in automotive development project

Quickstep to lead program to deliver industrialised composite car manufacturing solution

(PresseBox) (Ottobrunn, ) .
- Aim is to automate composite part manufacturing,
- Reduce composite manufacturing costs by 30% and;
- Deliver A Grade automotive finish parts.

Quickstep Holdings Limited (QHL) is pleased to advise that it will lead a joint development project supported by the German Government and leading car manufacturer Audi to develop new manufacturing solutions for the cost effective volume production of composite parts for the automotive industry.

The "PRESCHE Project" is aiming to achieve cost reductions of up to 30 per cent over existing manufacturing costs for the production of light-weight composite parts for the automotive industry. It plans to do this by combining independent composite manufacturing technologies including Quickstep's Resin Spray Transfer (RST) technology and patented Quickstep Process - an innovative out-of-autoclave technology that uses Heat Transfer Fluid in fluid-filled trays to rapidly cure advanced composites.

Quickstep's Managing Director, Mr Philippe Odouard, said the launch of the PRESCHE program in Germany represented an enormous opportunity for the Company to progress its RST technology in partnership with a high quality group of partners including Audi.

"We are very much looking forward to working with our partners in the PRESCHE program to further develop the RST technology and Quickstep Process for the automotive industry," he said. "The success of this program will position us to target a very significant medium term opportunity for composites in the car industry.

"This has the potential to provide a very substantial second growth front for the Company alongside our existing activities in the Aerospace sector, where our major focus is on the imminent commencement of manufacturing of composite components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program."

The PRESCHE project commences in November 2011 and will run until October 2014. The program is expected to run in parallel with other Quickstep RST developments focused on the early industrialisation of the technology for specific automotive requirements.

Key components of the study are; the definition of the concept for industrialisation, manufacture of demonstration parts followed by a detailed economic evaluation.

The ability to rapidly manufacture and cure composite parts to A-Grade surface finish for the automotive industry without the need and expense of traditional autoclaves presents a significant opportunity for Quickstep. The ultimate goal is high volume, low cost composite component manufacturing so the industry can deliver lighter vehicles with reduced fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

This is being driven by legislative change globally such as the new regulations expected to be introduced in the United States by 2017 requiring all new cars to operate on a 6.5 litres per 100km efficiency. Several major car manufacturers have already launched or announced plans to launch carbon cars.

The PRESCHE project, in which Quickstep's RST component represents A$1.2m of the budget, will build on the achievements of Quickstep's RST Development program in Australia, which is due to be completed by May 2012. This program is being funded as part of the Australian Government's Climate Ready Program.

In March, Quickstep completed the first "proof-of-concept" painted carbon fibre flat panel to A-Class automotive standards 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 exceed automotive industry standards.

In addition to Quickstep, the project consortium comprises Audi AG, Coriolis Composites GmbH, EDAG GmbH & Co. KG, the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology, project group integral light weight construction, and the University of Stuttgart, Institute of Aircraft Design.

The project is supported within the framework program 'research for tomorrow's production' ("Forschung für die Produktion von morgen") by the ministry of education and research (BMBF, Förderkennzeichen 02PJ2050).

Quickstep GmbH

Quickstep is an Australian-based company at the forefront of advanced materials manufacturing and technology transfer for the global aerospace and defence industries.

The use of advanced composites is rapidly growing with carbon material usage planned to increase at an average rate of 20% per annum for the next 10 years, underwritten by the emergence of high-use carbon fibre commercial aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. Light weighting of vehicles is the prime driver with commercial aircraft and military equipment leading the charge.

Quickstep has significant capabilities and expertise in the production of aerospace-grade composite components using both conventional autoclave-based manufacturing and leading edge out-of-autoclave production technologies, including its proprietary Quickstep Process. Quickstep is set to generate revenue using three distinct business models:

1. Technology transfer through the provision of the proprietary Quickstep Process and production equipment;
2. Manufacture of composite components, out of its Australian facility; and
3. Conducting paid or self-funded Research & Development on new composite structures.

Quickstep signed two Memorandums of Understanding (MOU's) in 2009 in relation to manufacturing contracts for the international F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program - the largest military aerospace program in the world, currently valued at in excess of US$300 billion worldwide. The first was signed with global aerospace companies, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, for around $700 million of potential contracts. The second MOU was signed with Melbourne-based Marand Precision Engineering for up to $50 million of contracts to manufacture Vertical Tail skins for the JSF.

Quickstep signed a Long Term Agreement with Northrop Grumman in relation to the first parts we have been allocated under the JSF program in February 2011, with a start date for JSF part delivery set for early 2012. Further contracts for additional parts are expected progressively during 2012.

The Company has a fully-commissioned aerospace-grade manufacturing facility located in North Coogee, Western Australia, and recently announced plans to relocate its manufacturing operations to the former Boeing facility at Bankstown, New South Wales, which offers the scale, resources and utilities necessary to undertake large-scale, long term aerospace manufacturing contracts.

In addition to its Australian operations, Quickstep also has facilities in strategic global locations including North America, Europe and the UK. The Company is currently partnering with some of the world's largest aerospace/defence companies, including the US Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Bae Systems, Boeing, Airbus and EADS.

Quickstep is also developing a unique patented process that can deliver high surface finish, low cost fast processing of carbon fibre composite particularly adapted to the automotive industry.

For further information, visit: www.quickstep.com.au