Exciting Plans to Quick Step Commercialistion of New Australian Composites Manufacturing Technology

Australian-based advanced materials group Quickstep Technologies Pty Ltd is set to fast-track the global commercialisation of its proprietary Quickstep Process for the high-speed, low-cost manufacture of composite components after today announcing a A$6 million public share issue and planned Australian Stock Exchange (“ASX”) listing for its parent company, Quickstep Holdings Limited (“Quickstep”).

The Quickstep Process involves a unique fluid-filled, balanced pressure, heated floating mould technology for the curing, partial curing and joining of composite materials.
The Quickstep Process involves a unique fluid-filled, balanced pressure, heated floating mould technology for the curing, partial curing and joining of composite materials.

Quickstep expects to list on the ASX in early October 2005 after lodging a Prospectus with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on 17 August 2005 for the issue of up to 24 million shares at an issue price of 25 cents per share to raise up to A$6 million. Australian broking firm State One Stockbroking Ltd is Sponsoring Broker to the public share offer, which opened today (18 August).

The Company’s Australian-based Managing Director, Mr Nick Noble, said the public raising and listing signalled an important new growth phase for Quickstep as it pushes into key target markets, with the funds raised enabling its existing international commercialisation and roll-out programs to be significantly expanded.

“This represents an exciting new chapter for Quickstep, which has made significant progress over the past three years since launching its first Quickstep pilot production facility in Perth in 2002,” Mr Noble said. “Participation in the public share offer has already been secured by a number of local institutions and offshore investors, and we are expecting a very positive response to the offer from retail and other investors in Australia.

“Quickstep has been at the leading edge of the growing worldwide shift towards the increased use of composites in the aerospace, automotive and other industries since the late 1990s, having already invested some A$4 million in the development of the patented Quickstep Process,” he added.

Composites combine high strength with light weight and are key materials in aerospace, automotive, marine, defence, public transport and industrial applications. The Quickstep Process comprises a patented suite of technologies that use fluid curing for manufacturing composites. The high level of control inherent in the Process means it is able to produce composites much faster and more cost effectively, with better production tolerances, than conventional high-temperature, high-pressure autoclave manufacturing processes.

Quickstep’s Chief Operating Officer, the Americas and Europe, Mr Dale Brosius, said the global composites parts market was currently worth over US$11 billion and was expected to grow at 10% per annum over the next 10 years, having already doubled in size in some sectors over the past decade.

“This strong growth reflects a growing shift towards the greater use of composites as an increasingly desirable replacement for metals in many applications because of their high strength and reduced weight,” Mr Brosius said. “The potential of the Quickstep Process to play a key role in this continuing process accounts for its significant profile within the international composites industry, developed over the past 10 years.

“Quickstep has attracted widespread international interest because of its potential to significantly reduce the cost of parts produced from composite materials, breaking down the barriers to the more widespread use of composites associated with higher cost conventional autoclave manufacturing processes,” he added.

Quickstep already has fully automated Quickstep pilot production facilities operating at three separate locations under international research collaborations with Toyota Motor Corporation in Nagoya, Japan, the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing (VCAMM) in Geelong, Australia, and the Northern Aerospace Technology Exploitation Centre (NATEC) in Manchester, England in conjunction with the University of Manchester and UK-based aerospace and technology giant BAE Systems.

Global alliances are also in place with major international advanced materials suppliers such as Toray Composites (in the USA and Japan) and German-based industrial chemicals and performance materials giant Degussa AG, alongside R&D and applications development agreements with groups such as VCAMM.

Mr Noble said the funds raised through this public share issue will be used to accelerate Quickstep’s already well advanced global commercialisation process.

“This includes the further expansion of our growing portfolio of alliances, the establishment of additional production facilities and the development of multiple income streams by licensing our technology to major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) and Tier One suppliers to the global automotive, aerospace, defence, marine, wind energy and general industrial markets,” Mr Noble added.

“The market is urgently seeking enhanced composite production techniques such as Quickstep’s, offering improved productivity and capital reductions,” he added. “Global growth in carbon fibre demand is forecast to be in excess of 10% per annum for the foreseeable future, and this will require existing manufacturers to extend their capacity,” he added.

The high capital equipment, labour and tooling costs of these processes have traditionally presented a barrier to the more widespread use of composites – a barrier which the Quickstep Process can overcome by dramatically reducing these costs, while significantly shortening cycle times in the production of parts with equivalent or better product performance to aerospace quality standards. To date the use of advanced composites has largely been confined to high-specification aerospace and automotive applications.

During its development over the past 10 years, the Quickstep Process has benefited from the technical input and scientific review of its products from Australia’s largest public sector research and development institution, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Quickstep launched its first fully function Quickstep production unit at the Company’s facilities in the Perth industrial suburb of Canning Vale in 2002, and has since greatly expanded its process development programs through participation with a number of major international companies. Three additional production facilities are now operational in Japan (Toyota), the United Kingdom (NATEC) and Australia (VCAMM, Geelong, Victoria).

http://www.quickstep.com.au

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