Hexcel Promotes Composite Innovations for Automotive Engineers at NAIAS, Detroit in the JEC Composites Pavilion

11 January 2019

Hexcel is participating in the North American International Automotive Show (NAIAS) on 14-17 January 2019 to promote the benefits of composite materials for the cars of today and tomorrow.

Hexcel has a dedicated Automotive business focused on developing and supplying a range of composite materials for structural parts, suspension systems, bodywork and interiors.

Two parts, made with Hexcel’s composite materials, will be displayed in the JEC Composites Pavilion to demonstrate the multiple benefits of composites for automotive engineers. These benefits include not only weight savings, strength and stiffness, but also design freedom, improvement in aesthetics, part count reduction and function integration that composites bring to automotive applications.

Hybrid structures which combine composites with other materials are a growing trend that will be demonstrated by a Volkswagen side sill on display. The hybrid side sill demonstrator combines fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) with metal and was developed by Volkswagen in conjunction with Dresden University and Hexcel to address future crash test requirements, specifically for electric cars. The hybrid construction allows for optimum performance including weight savings, enhanced safety, increased energy absorption, battery protection in a crash situation and production flexibility. Hexcel’s HexPly fast cure self-adhesive prepreg cures and bonds to metals, including aluminum or oily steel, in a highly efficient one-step process.

Hexcel’s second display part is a carbon transmission crossmember, developed with Alpex, IPPE (JKU) and Engel. This carbon/sheet moulding compound transmission crossmember achieves the same stiffness and strength performance as aluminum, while providing exceptional weight-saving and function integration benefits.

This part is made from Hexcel's HexMC-i carbon fibre/epoxy moulding compound, manufactured from UD prepreg chips that are randomly oriented and have longer fibres than standard SMC, providing higher performance. HexMC-i moulding compound uses Hexcel's HexPly M77 resin system, which cures in just 90 seconds, making it ideal for series production.

Prepreg based hybrid structures and carbon fibre moulding compounds are just two of Hexcel’s composite innovations developed specifically for car manufacturers. Hexcel is also a leading manufacturer of woven reinforcements and non-crimp fabrics for automotive applications.

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