Century Design Inc. can build carbon-fiber-prepreg machines for China since the United States relaxed export limitations on this technology recently.
``The door is wide open,'' said President Robert Basso. ``Right now, we are quoting five separate turnkey carbon-fiber prepreg lines for China.''
The San Diego firm has built turnkey factories there and become familiar with the ability of Chinese workers to make a fiberglass golf shaft in 12 minutes, a fishing rod in 45 minutes and a tennis racket in 1 hour.
Workers receive 10-15 cents per hour.
Elsewhere, Basso said, northern Italy ``has taken a big bite of composites production'' for bicycles, motorcycle housings and fairings, and automotive components including mufflers.
He would like to see more work return to the United States and has a machine with which two workers can make 4,800 golf-club shafts per shift. He suggested thinking of aerospace components as a ``commercial product instead of a shuttle.''
Century Design sells about 500 high-volume machines per year, drawing on 135 different designs and 20,000 components. Each machine can make 2,000-30,000 pieces per work shift, mostly for composite sporting goods products.