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Qatar Ag and Prodrive to establish carbon fibre composite partnership

31 January 2012

Qatar Automotive Gateway (Qatar Ag) and Prodrive have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore a strategic partnership for the development and production of advanced carbon fibre composite automotive parts and assemblies. The two companies have identified a significant opportunity to combine their respective skills, experiences and resources to meet the rapidly expanding demand for lightweight, cost-effective carbon composite-based products in numerous markets around the world.

Autoclaves at Prodrive’s composites facility: the biggest can handle components up to 2m diameter by 4.3m long
Autoclaves at Prodrive’s composites facility: the biggest can handle components up to 2m diameter by 4.3m long

Ahmed Sorour, chief executive officer of Qatar Ag says his company has been working for three years to identify opportunities for building an automotive cluster in Qatar by 2020. "We place very high importance on investing into knowledge-based industries which come at the forefront of the new automotive value chain, and particularly when Qatar’s resources offer a significant competitive advantage to our customers," he adds.

"Lightweight-material technology, illustrated perfectly by carbon composites, is an excellent strategic fit. Prodrive are an exceptional company, demonstrating an enviable track record in designing and producing carbon composites as well as many other long-standing and successful business activities across the world. We look forward to developing our relationship with Prodrive and exploring long-term opportunities for business in this exciting area of light-weight materials technology”

Clive Scrivener, chief operating officer of Prodrive says his company has developed and produced carbon composite products for 20 years through its automotive and motorsport activities. "Our current carbon composite business in the UK is already a leading supplier to numerous high-profile vehicle manufacturers and demand continues to grow, " he says. "We look forward to working closely with Qatar Ag to build a long-term partnership and to provide a high-quality, and economic supply route to our customers in all industry sectors”

Prodrive recently doubled the size of its composites facility, moving from motorsport-sized manufacturing batches to runs of several thousand. The biggest investment has been in two additional high-spec autoclaves (one of which is pictured here), together worth around £800,000. The larger unit accepts parts up to 2m diameter by 4.3m long; the other 1.5m by 2.3m long.  As well as allowing substantial panels to be manufactured in one piece, they open up new possibilities that could further improve high-volume production efficiency: with 350oC and 200 psi now available, the use of thermoplastic composites becomes possible, with much faster cycle times and easier recycling.

£500,000 has also been invested in a new, five-axis milling machine. It now takes only 20 minutes to trim a large post-mould component that previously took four hours by hand.

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