Written by Kerryn Caulfield, Executive Director, Composites Australia Inc.
The company manufactures a wide range of specialised proprietary products for tactical and protective security and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) as well as unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and geospatial visualisation solutions. Its protective personnel program portfolio includes personal light-weight armour vests and military and security lightweight protective helmets as well as military light-weight armour plating. XTEK designs and fabricates high performance composite components using carbon fibre, fibreglass, aramids and other specialty fibres in both thermosetting and thermoplastic resin systems.
The XTclave™ is a composite materials curing and consolidation technology that uses ultra-high isostatic pressure of up to 300bar at temperatures of up to 200°C to cure and/or consolidate thermoset and thermoplastic composites. The patented technology was developed in-house specifically to produce lighter, stronger and stiffer complex geometric shaped composites including precision ballistic and structural composites for armour, lightweight tactical and human load carriage equipment, robotic mechanical systems and unmanned craft.
“Closed moulding in a press for the RTM processes with expensive tooling can apply similar pressures as our hydroclave, but only in an axially direction. The RTM process has regions of high and low-pressure within the composite component that arise from part complex geometry. Our hydroclave technology makes it possible to manufacture composite articles by the isostatic pressure effect and high efficiency heat exchange using a heat transfer fluid. The resulting fibre volume content is typically 70 per cent, but up to 75 per cent has been achieved for structural components using thermosets without surface dryness and near zero void content through thickness,” explained Rik Heslehurst, PhD, Aerospace and Composites Engineer, XTEK Ltd.
XTEK provides several products for the Australian Defence and Security Forces. It exports to New Zealand, USA and Denmark and is forging markets into other European countries as well as Asia.
XTEK’s integrated service portfolio also includes engineering and R&D consulting services as well as composites training. Its electronics workshop and composite repair facility that provide in-house through-life support for its equipment is housed at head offices in Canberra. XTEK’s engineering facility is located in Adelaide which is home to its armour research hub and the XTclave technology and manufacturing centre for its lightweight composite production. The facility also houses its CNC machining, fabrication and injection moulding capabilities.
- XTEK – an Australian Defence Force recognised supplier – is listed on the Australian Defence Force Register as an approved maintenance facility, and is a member of the Defence Industry Security Panel.
- XTEK Limited, listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX:XTE) in 2005.
- XTEK’s accreditations include QMS ISO 9001-2021 DoD – DMO Registered Technical Support Agency Member of the Defence Industry Security Program Defence Recognised Supplier of Strategic Capabilities.