Hexcel Focuses on Composite Innovations for Aerospace, Automotive and Wind Energy at JEC 2015

Hexcel is exhibiting at JEC Europe 2015 in Paris on March 10-13 (Stand F30, Pavilion 7.3) to promote the latest composite innovations for aerospace, automotive and wind energy applications.

Hexcel is promoting products and manufacturing technologies for the large volume production of structural parts for the automotive industry. Hexcel’s M77 resin cures in 2 minutes at 150°C, or 1.5 minutes at 160°C, and is available as HexPly® M77 prepreg or as HexMC® molding compound, which is ideal for complex shapes. The gel time of M77 allows the resin to quickly flow into mold contours to achieve precise geometries and the high Tg of 130°C enables cured parts to be demolded while warm for faster production cycles.

Building on the attributes of HexPly® M77, Hexcel has now installed a fully automated production line in Austria that converts UD prepreg into 2D preforms in seconds. The process allows prepreg plies of different weights and orientation to be combined in the same ply-book and includes automated cutting, camera-assisted ply positioning, integration of adhesive and automated packing.

Visitors to JEC will see CFRP reinforced Body in White parts made with HexPly® M77 preforms from Hexcel’s automated process. The preforms’ low tack allows for automated handling by the customer. They require no surface preparation and are designed for one step bonding and curing in a press, requiring no finishing operations. Common BIW part joining technologies such as welding can be used, and the parts are compatible with e-coating processes.
Hexcel will also display a Lamborghini Aventador monocoque, with a roof made from Hexcel’s XF3 surface film and HexPly® M47 prepreg for a Class A painted surfaces. The tub structure was made by RTM using Formax multiaxial structures specifically designed for preform applications. Multiaxial fabrics combine drapeability with good structural properties and allow carbon fiber to be processed at speeds and efficiencies conducive with high volume automotive manufacturing processes. Hexcel acquired 50% of Formax UK Limited in December 2014.

Wind Energy
Hexcel’s wind energy display comprises a wind blade section manufactured by SSP Technology using Hexcel’s HexPly® M79 prepreg. HexPly® M79 was developed to meet industry requirements for a faster and lower temperature curing prepreg for thick laminates in the wind energy and marine industries. The system cures in 8 to 10 hours at 70°C/158°F or in just 4 to 6 hours at 80°C/176°F. The very low exotherm of HexPly® M79 allows the temperature to be increased more quickly in the mold, resulting in a shorter cure cycle.

Hexcel is also launching its new advanced Polyspeed® pre-cured, thick-ply carbon fiber elements for structural reinforcement applications. Carbon fiber tows are impregnated, shaped and cured in a continuous process that creates perfect fiber alignment and a uniform surfaced product. Polyspeed® laminates have very high structural properties and are available with epoxy and polyurethane resins. The laminates form production-ready components for structural applications in marine, wind and automotive. They are fully compatible with Hexcel’s epoxy thermoset resin matrices and can be used in combination with Hexcel prepregs for wind blades including HexPly® M79. They are also compatible with many commercial thermoset infusion resins.

For aerospace customers Hexcel is launching a new RTM resin, HexFlow® RTM230 ST, that performs at high temperatures with superior toughness and has excellent high rate impact resistance. The resin is particularly suitable for engine components such as fan blades and fan cases, spacers and outlet guide vanes. Matching the current market leader in terms of high in-plane and impact performance with good long term thermal stability, HexFlow® RTM230 ST is easier to process, having a 45 minute injection window. In addition the system demonstrates outstanding resistance to aggressive fluids including commonly used solvents and aviation fuel.

Hexcel is also promoting HexPly® M92, the latest generation 125°C curing prepreg that combines superior hot wet performance up to 115°C, self-adhesion, high toughness, fire-resistance, low exotherm and a long out/tack life. On display will be a wing fuselage fairing door demonstrator manufactured by Embraer using HexPly® M92 carbon fiber prepreg. This honeycomb sandwich structure requires no adhesive thanks to the self-adhesive properties of HexPly M92.

Hexcel’s HiTape® technology is the JEC Innovation Award Winner for Aerospace. HiTape® advanced dry carbon fiber reinforcements are designed for the automated manufacture of preforms at very high deposition rates. The preforms are then infused with Hexcel’s RTM6 resin in a cost-efficient out of autoclave process. Parts produced with HiTape® reinforcements and Hexcel’s HexFlow® infusion resins can be up to 30mm thick with a 58 to 60% fiber volume content, resulting in mechanical properties that are as high as those achieved with primary structure prepregs.

Hexcel partnered with Stelia Aerospace (formerly Aerolia), Coriolis Composites and CompositeAdour to collaborate on the design, manufacture and testing of a primary aircraft structure – a self-stiffened fuselage demonstrator panel – using HiTape®. The resulting panel that will be displayed at JEC demonstrates that HiTape® meets the aerospace performance standards for primary structures, including damage tolerance. This cost and cycle efficient technology meets the targets for next generation aircraft.

Hexcel was the first company to manufacture honeycomb on a commercial scale over 60 years ago and the company continues to innovate by adding functionality to core products. At JEC Hexcel is launching HexSHIELD™, a technology product providing high temperature resistance in aircraft engine nacelles. By inserting a thermally resistant material into honeycomb cells Hexcel provides a core product with unique heat-shielding capabilities, that allows for the potential re-use of material after a fire at 1093°C/2000°F. The product builds on Hexcel’s long history of heat resistant honeycombs including HexWeb® HRH-327, with temperature resistance up to 260°C/500°F. HexSHIELD™ combines the structural and formable benefits of honeycomb with thermal resistance performance and can be combined with various facing materials, making it tailorable to customer needs.

Advancements to Hexcel’s Acousti-CAP® broadband noise-reducing honeycomb have resulted in Multi-Degree of Freedom (MDOF) liners that bring significant improvements in acoustic absorption capabilities in aircraft engine nacelles. The acoustic treatment may be positioned at a consistent depth and resistance within the core, or it can be placed at a pattern of varying depths and/ or resistances, offering an acoustic liner that is precisely tuned to the engine operating conditions. Acousti-CAP® has been tested at NASA on a full engine test rig and meets all 16 design conditions without trade-offs.

Since Hexcel launched HexTow® HM63 carbon fiber at JEC 2014 this high modulus fiber has been quickly adopted by customers and is already in multi-lot qualification with major space and aerospace OEMs. HexTow® HM63 has the highest tensile strength of any high modulus fiber and provides outstanding translation of fiber properties in a composite, including superior interlaminar shear and compression shear strength.

On the Hexcel stand at JEC visitors will see an out of autoclave filament wound carbon composite structure manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space using Hexcel’s HexPly® M56 and HexTow® HM63 carbon fiber towpreg. The part was manufactured in a partnership framework to develop high performance towpreg for space applications.

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