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Daniel Leipnik, CEO, Australian Composites "UV Cure Prepregs Discounted the Impact of Global Slowdown for Australian Composites"

Australian Composites Pty Ltd is a privately owned Melbourne based manufacturer of UV curable prepregs and a division of The Specialty Group, one of Australia’s largest technical textile mills who have been in business since 1978.

The Company manufactures over 200 different resin impregnated fibreglass materials for a multitude of Industries where specialized prepregs are used. Over 5 million dollars has been spent designing and developing the range of UV curable prepregs which are now sold worldwide for use in many applications.

The company is capable of producing small trial lots right through to large FCL quantities. The company is ISO9001 certified and accredited suppliers to the Australian and New Zealand Departments of Defence.

In an exclusive interview Daniel Leipnik, CEO, Australian Composites Pty Ltd shares his experience with Editor, Lucintel, K. Venkateshwar. Rao. Excerpts:

1. What are the key drivers for composites consumption in Australia?

Daniel Leipnik: The key drivers for composites consumption in Australia are uptake of product from the local market as well as international sales. Thanks to an incredible year for the Australian economy, many businesses have seen increased requirements for composites raw materials and finished parts.

2. What are some of the key challenges faced by Your Company in the composites market?

Daniel Leipnik: The technology we have represents the most advanced curing process and easy to use materials in the Industry. Some of the key challenges are educating people as to how their production process can be sped up with rapid light curing prepregs and working with companies to demonstrate how vacuum bagging techniques work as part of the manufacturing function of making parts with UV curable prepregs. Once these steps are overcome and workers trained, there are limited challenges for adoption of the technology.

3. Tell us about the impact of government policies on composites industry?

Daniel Leipnik: In Australia, the Federal and State governments are very supportive of Industry growth. There are tax credits for research and development, financial support for export marketing activities, and many grants for innovation and leading edge technology development. There is also funding support to commercialize new technologies and take concepts through to sellable product. These greatly contribute to creating a very favourable business environment for Australian manufacturers and technology developers.

Key challenges faced by composite end-users in Australia?

Daniel Leipnik: Composite end users in Australia have been faced with having to make use of old composite manufacturing techniques such as "chopper gun" or "wet hand lay up". These processes are laborious, have slow cure times, require resin and catalyst mixing, parts can be uneven, and there is often excessive resin use.  Having access to UV cure prepregs has meant that Australian manufacturers now have access to state of the art materials which enable composite parts to be made in minutes where precise resin to fiber ratios are optimized. This is revolutionizing how composite parts are being made and creating huge cost and time savings for manufacturers.

5. Government support and policies change that is required to encourage exports of composite components?

Daniel Leipnik: The very best support Government could provide to facilitate growth in exports is to increase funding for trade shows and trade missions internationally. Trade shows are one of the best ways for thousands of people to find you and being present at them offers the fastest way to access new clients and new markets.

6. Emerging applications that you foresee to have a significant bearing on the composites consumption?

Daniel Leipnik: We are currently developing structural composite materials with photovoltaic capabilities. We expect that this will revolutionize the solar industry and provide large scale growth in brand new markets globally such as solar roofing, large scale solar collectors, truck and bus roofing, and building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). We are also seeing tremendous uptake of our UV curing Ballistics grade prepregs which are easily formed into vehicle panels, used to wrap ceramic plates for bullet proof vests and as rapid in-situ battlefield repairs to composite planes and helicopters.

7. How has global slowdown affected the market? How has been your organization’s growth in the last 2-3 years and how do your foresee the growth forward?

Daniel Leipnik: Our Company has experienced over 10% growth a year over the last 3 years and we expect considerable growth and expansion well beyond this over the coming five years as companies worldwide adopt and specify our rapid cure technology. The global slowdown has been fantastic for our business as more and more companies are looking for new technologies in composites that can help them reduce labour costs, material costs, waste, and increase manufacturing efficiencies. Fortunately our UV cure prepregs provide all of these solutions.

8. Do you see high-potential for composites in the market? If yes, what are some of reasons for the same?

Daniel Leipnik: I see great potential for composites. Composites offer many benefits over metal, most of all being lighter weight with comparative strength. Also as governments seek environmental product alternatives, high energy utilizing metal products will be quickly replaced with for climate friendly rapid cure prepregs. Specifically, the growth in wind energy, solar energy, and light weight vehicles is only going to drive further use and growth of composites.

For detailed report on "Growth Opportunities for Composites in Australia 2009-2014: Trends and Forecast Analysis" please contact helpdesk at 972-636-5056 or via email at helpdesk@lucintel.com

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