Quickstep strikes carbon fibre partnership with Deakin, CRC

Brandon How

Local carbon fibre producer Quickstep has entered a new engineering collaboration with the Sovereign Manufacturing Automation for Composites Cooperative Research Centre and Deakin University’s Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation.

The initial 12-month program is valued at $1 million and will be jointly funded by the project participants. Work will be primarily led by the firm’s facility on Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus.

Announced on Wednesday, the collaboration will seek to develop Quickstep’s Aeroline product for streamlining production of carbon fibre aerostructures through automation programs and novel design techniques.

Quickstep develops carbon fibre advanced composite materials that “make aerospace products lighter, safer, stronger, cost-efficient and sustainable​,” according to its website.

The company counts Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Boeing Defense, Marand Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar as customers. It also recently developed an automation program for the production of F-35 flares for the United States Department of Defense.

The Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation at Deakin University hosts Australia’s largest research team in systems modelling and simulation to deliver commercial-ready products for use in advanced manufacturing, aerospace, rail, automotive, defence, and health sectors.

Members of the Quickstep research and development team. Image: Quickstep

Quickstep head of technology and partnerships Luke Preston said the partnership would cement the firm’s reputation as a leading manufacturer in the commercial drone market.

“This collaboration brings together some of the best advanced manufacturing minds in Australia to make significant steps forward in simulation tools to deliver high quality solutions,” Mr Preston said.

“It’s fantastic that we have all the research and commercialisation teams to design and manufacture innovative Advanced Air Mobility solutions all right here on the Deakin campus.”

The Waurn Ponds campus is a hub of carbon fibre expertise within the Waurn Ponds Future Economy precinct, which also hosts Carbon Revolution, the ManuFutures advanced manufacturing innovation hub, and CSIRO’s carbon fibre research team.

Deakin University hosts the largest fibre research group in the Southern Hemisphere with more than 110 researchers based at its Institute for Frontier Materials.

The world’s first open-access carbon fibre and composites research facility dubbed, Carbon Nexus, was opened at the Waurn Ponds campus in 2014, while Quickstep opened its Automotive division and global research and development centre at Deakin’s Waurn Ponds campus in 2015.

Quickstep also collaborates with Deakin University through the recently launched Australian Research Council’s Future Fibres Hub. It is accompanied by a new Future Fibres Facility that houses fibre production and yarn processing equipment and specialist knitting and weaving machines.

The Sovereign Manufacturing Automation for Composites Cooperative Research Centre commenced operations in January with almost $260 million in funding, including $69.9 million over 10 years from the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centres program.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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