ATL Composites Celebrating 40 years of innovation in composites

ATL Composites is celebrating 40 years of operations, supplying innovative composite products to the marine, automotive, industrial and construction industries in Australia and around the world.

Arnie Duckworth established the business in New Zealand in 1977. Paying tribute to Arnie and the efforts, expertise and ingenuity contributed by ATL staff over the decades, Director Nicholas Cossich said “Without question, 40 years would have been impossible without the dedication, hard work and skill of our past and present talented staff.

“Success to date would not have been achieved without the firm support of our valued clients, distributors, dealers, colleagues, engineers, designers and naval architects to whom we are grateful.”

The origins of the company are decidedly in boat building, in the late 1970s when Mr Duckworth, an avid sailor, relocated to NZ after a period working for the legendary Gougeon Brothers Inc in the US.

The Gougeons had developed the WEST SYSTEM epoxy system, that was revolutionising timber boat construction, by stabilising the moisture content of the wood. Back in NZ, Mr Duckworth observed a market for epoxy products to supply to the expanding marine industry, manufacturing WEST SYSTEM epoxy products under licence to Gougeon Brothers for the Asia Pacific region.

In 1980, ATL Composites expanded its footprint, opening a facility in Australia, in Brookvale on Sydney’s northern beaches, to service the professional boat-building market.

The WEST SYSTEM was embraced by Australia’s leading boat builders and designers including McConaghy Boats and Lock Crowther Designs. ATL’s investment in R&D led to rapid evolution and an expanded product range.

In 1989, the Australian operation re-located to Queensland, doubling its turnover in the first 12 months. The 1990s were characterised by a boom in the design and manufacture of multihulls in Australia. With its experience in epoxy resins and composite materials, reinforced by solid relationships with leading Australian multihull designers, and a personal interest in racing cats, ATL became a leading player in material supply for construction of both racing and cruising multihulls.

During this time, ATL’s DuFLEX Composite Panels were developed and introduced into marine and industrial markets, immediately finding a niche and becoming the industry standard.

The TECHNIREZ® range of industrial epoxies was also developed and introduced to provide versatile and economic solutions for tooling applications with a full range of laminating and coating systems, filled casting resins, thixotropic gelcoats, surfacing compounds suitable for CNC machining, and laminating pastes.

In the late 1990s, ATL expanded distribution into Asia, with Oceanic Link in Singapore and Piercey Marine in Hong Kong, both of which continue their distribution to this day.

The decade of the 2000s was marked by an expanding market for multihull construction by both professional and amateur builders, whose designs were specified around the DuFLEX Building System. ATL used its knowledge and experience of composite materials to diversify into other markets including automotive, architectural and surfing/sporting equipment and transportation applications.

An outstanding achievement in 2012 was the development of a range of unique epoxy systems with extremely high compressive strength and toughness for the construction of James Cameron’s Deep Sea Challenger, a 7.3-metre deep diving submersible that made a record breaking 11 kilometre descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

ATL is certified to ISO9001 and has attained approvals under DnV-GL for delivering world-class product quality and performance. They are well supported by an extensive Distribution/Dealer network in every State and Territory of Australia and also throughout Asia in Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and Korea.

Since 2012, ATL has enjoyed a fruitful joint venture partnership with MuH von der Linden of Wesel, Germany forming vdL Composites GmbH to manufacture DuFLEX panels for the European market. After showing the DuFLEX and Featherlight range of panels at the 2019 Marine Equipment Trade Show in Amsterdam, vdL went on to appoint distributors in Italy, Turkey and France.

“The 40-year marker is an important milestone. We continue to leverage our solid foundation of expertise and technology in our key marine business into new growth markets including defence, automotive, architectural and civil,” said Mr Cossich.

“Our long-standing international and domestic supplier relationships will continue to allow us to complement our own product ranges by offering world leading advanced composite materials to the Australasian market.

The ATL Team with Lorraine Murray, Director (centre in white)