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Hexcel Celebrates 60 years of Innovation in Composites

17 July 2008

Both Hexcel and Farnborough celebrate their 60th anniversaries this year, with Hexcel again participating in the air show as it has done for many years.

Composites now play an essential role in helping aircraft designers to meet the performance and weight-saving targets for new programs. Hexcel has just been awarded its largest ever contract to supply the carbon fibre composites for the primary structures of the Airbus A350 XWB. At least 53% of the A350 XWB airframe is to be built in composites and Hexcel’s contract is expected to generate revenues of $4 - $5 billion through 2025.

Hexcel is also opening three new plants in its 60th year - in France, Spain and China – and investing $280 million to increase carbon fibre capacity to 7000 Tonnes by 2010.

The spirit of innovation has continued at Hexcel through to the present and at this year’s Farnborough show the company will promote a number of new composite technologies that are benefiting aircraft designers and manufacturers.

Hexcel is launching HexPly M56, a new Out of Autoclave (OOA) prepreg for aircraft secondary structures. Unlike traditional aerospace prepregs that require an autoclave cure to achieve the required properties, HexPly M56 provides the same quality and performance from a simple oven cure under vacuum. This avoids capital investment in autoclave equipment and on-going processing costs.

HexPly M56 is available with woven carbon, UD carbon tape, woven glass and Metallic mesh reinforcements and is suitable for Hand Lay-up, Automated Tape Laying (ATL) and Automated Fiber Placement (AFP) processing. The standard cure temperature is 180°C and an alternative 135°C cure cycle is possible, with potential for reduced tooling costs and composite repair applications.

In OEM and Tier 1 trials all requirements for porosity, C-scan, surface aspect and mechanical performance have been achieved. The easy handling of HexPly® M56, for Hand Lay-up and ATL applications, is also appreciated, along with the 30 day tack life at room temperature.

Hexcel will also be promoting its machinable composite tooling material, HexTOOL at Farnborough. HexTOOL is revolutionizing the production of tooling for aerospace composite parts, providing many benefits compared to prepregs and Invar. Hexcel is also promoting its HexWeb Acousti-Cap noise dampening system for jet engine nacelles.

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