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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.

Paying tribute to the vision of founder, Arnie Duckworth, who established the business in New Zealand in 1977, 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 who are very much looking forward to the future challenges and opportunities that our dynamic industry always presents.”

Mr Cossich also honoured the support and collaboration of ATL’s valued clients. “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 exceedingly grateful.”

The origins of the company are proudly in boat building, in the late 70s 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 the boat building powerhouse of NZ, Mr Duckworth observed a market for epoxy products to supply to the burgeoning marine industry, manufacturing WEST SYSTEM epoxy products under licence to Gougeon Brothers for the Asia Pacific region.

Arnie Duckworth early 80’s

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 first distributor was Gus Green in Launceston, Tasmania.

WEST SYSTEM was embraced by Australia’s leading boat builders and designers including McConaghy Boats and Lock Crowther Designs. Crowther designed ‘BullFrog’, the famed 40-footer that campaigned in over 30 ocean races throughout the Pacific throughout the 1980s.

Mr Duckworth developed the DuraKore Strip Plank Construction system in the mid-80s, which he trialled in leading racing yachts of the era such as ‘Buckle Up’, a Rocket 41 designed by Jim Young and owned by Bill Buckle, and ‘Riverside Oaks’, the 8m racing trimaran designed by Tony Grainger and being a true testament to the quality and longevity of ATL’s materials by still winning races to this very day. 

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 introduction of a pre-filled fairing compound, which became TECHNIFILL XP, led to the expansion into opportunities for fairing applications for metal boats in late 1989, and then an extension of pre-filled systems including the TECHNIGLUE® R60 structural adhesive, now used widely in industrial applications.

The 90s 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.

DuFLEX was used extensively in the marine sector in racing, pleasure, and commercial vessels, among them the first commercial DuFlex project, a 24m ferry for use in Hong Kong, which was designed by Simon Meyjes and engineered by Nicholas Cossich, now Director at ATL.

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 90s, ATL expanded distribution into Asia, with Oceanic Link in Singapore and Piercey Marine in Hong Kong, both of whom continue their distribution to this day. 

The decade of the 2000s were marked by an expanding market for multihull construction by both professional and amateur builders, whose designs were specified around the DuFLEX Building System, and the ATL used its knowledge and experience of composite materials to diversify into other markets where there is a demand for lighter, stronger, stiffer, more durable structures 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. 

At 24 feet long, the submersible vehicle the Deepsea Challenger was designed to descend faster than more rotund submersibles

A success which in essence thoroughly vindicated ATL’s certifications to ISO9001 and approvals under DNV-GL for delivering world-class product quality and performance.

“Enduring and close partnerships with leading International manufacturers  including DIAB Group Sweden , Hawkeye Industries USA, Airtech Inc USA, and of course our very good friends at WEST SYSTEM Inc, USA, have been  key to strengthening our position in existing markets, and expansion into emerging composite industries,” said Nicholas.

“We are also fortunate to be very well supported by a long established and 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.  During the successful showing at METS, Amsterdam in 2019, vdL appointed Distributors in Italy, Turkey and France to represent the DuFLEX and Featherlight composite panels in their regions.

ATL started 2020 with new products, a vision for the next decade and a commitment to build on the camaraderie and close bonds among their network of customers and colleagues worldwide.

Inga von der Linden, Director at vdL Composites, Germany sent her congratulations to ATL Composites for 40 years of innovation and excellence.

DuFLEX on display for the European Market METS 2019

“We have been working together more than 30 years, since 2012 as distributor of DuFLEX and DuraKore panels and also for many years prior as colleagues and friends in the composite industry selling many similar product lines.

“We have had a shared stand at METS Amsterdam, also sharing houseboats, talking to each other monthly via Skype and seeing us at other industry events. That has made us much more than business partners. I love working with Lorraine and Nick and I wish for them many more successful years ahead.”

Ian Wright, third generation boat builder at Norman R. Wright & Sons, which itself commemorated 110 years in business, has been collaborating with ATL for around 30 years.

“There are almost too many yachts over the past three decades to mention by name,” said Ian.

“We met Arnie in 1982 and started working with ATL in 1987. ATL has always offered excellent support and service, especially on the technical side,” he recounted.

“In the past 15 years, they have contributed to the engineering on projects and we have been very grateful for their expertise.

“We have become extremely close, bonded by our mutual love of boats, cars, construction and aeronautical engineering. My son, an aerospace engineer, actually did work experience at ATL. They also helped build him a billycart when he was six years old.

“ATL supplied material and advice when I was building my family home at Wynnum – a green composite house we call the ‘eco-casa’. Lorraine and Nick are a great duo with exceptional skills and very complementary talents. We congratulate them on their 40-year milestone and all the best for many, many more.”

Tony Grainger, founder of Grainger Designs said “We’ve been with ATL Composites almost since the inception. From the 8m trimaran Dux Nuts (1987) through to our latest all carbon 42-foot custom trimaran Venom, and a host of catamaran and trimaran projects in between”.

“ATL have been with us on the journey with materials, state of the art laminating technology, DuFlex kits for our cruising cats, and engineering support.”

He continued: “There’s no digging needed to discover the success of ATL’s longevity. It’s cultural. The same faces are there year after year armed with technical know-how and a welcoming smile, whatever the questions. Congratulations and thanks to all the crew at ATL; and here’s hoping you guys are around for a lot more anniversaries.”

Jake Holloway, Product Manager at Shapers Australia, which supplies surfboard manufacturing products to leading surfboard shapers around the globe, was impressed with “ATL’s big 4-0”.

“That is an impressive innings to say the least, for any company in any industry,” he said. “In a highly competitive and rapidly changing environment the ability to maintain such a high level of product quality, customer service and innovation rings accolades to ATL Composites. 

“What our company (Shapers Australia) really appreciate and find highly motivating is the relationship we have established with ATL. The culture of ATL is to work with customers as a team, a genuine partnership arrangement.

“It is through this partnership that ATL and Shapers Australia have been able to combine critical knowledge, share sensitive information and lead the world in the field of specialised epoxy solutions for the Surf Industry. The distribution achieved has been on a global scale and importantly the channels of communication are always open, always flowing and always looking towards the future. This mutual success is achieved through a partnership built on mutual trust and respect.

“From all the team at Shapers to all the team at ATL, Happy Birthday and a whopping big Thank you. Please raise your glasses and here’s to many great years ahead!”

Whiter than White KINETIX 110X

Marinesports International in Victoria was among the original WEST SYSTEM Distributors appointed in Victoria. Director Andrew Morrison sent his best wishes for ATL’s milestone.

“We established WEST SYSTEM with leading yacht chandleries and boat builders and in more recent times, several quality furniture manufacturers have come to realise the many benefits of using WEST SYSTEM products as a glue and for sealing timber.

“Over the past 40 years ATL Composites, under the guidance of Nicholas Cossich, Lorraine Murray and their team, have grown a reputation for excellent customer service offering quality products with technical support. We wish them every success for the future.”

Mr Cossich said the team at ATL was grateful for their customers’ loyalty and enthusiasm for ATL’s extensive range of products, commenting on their valuable input which has spurred product development and enhancements.

He said ATL is energised by attaining the 40-year marker and has no intention of resting on their laurels.

“We will continue to push the boundaries of material performance through our active research and development programs, and are looking to expand and improve our materials and technical proficiency in numerous aspects of cosmetic finishing, thermal ranges, fire-resistance and sustainability.

“Important new growth markets include defence, automotive, architectural and civil which are now leveraging our solid foundation of expertise and technology developed over decades in our key marine business.

“Our significant, 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.”

ATL Composites QLD facility

More at www.atlcomposites.com

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