NetComposites
Thermwood

High-­volume, Zero-­waste Process Enabled by Hexcel Moulding Compound

26 March 2019

High-­volume, Zero-­waste Process Enabled by Hexcel Moulding Compound

A high-­performance moulding compound from Hexcel has been used to produce a carbon fibre-­reinforced plastic (CFRP) transmission crossmember using a zero-­ waste process ideal for high-­volume manufacture.

The automotive part is comparable with aluminum versions in terms of its performance and price, but could be 30–35% lighter.

The transmission crossmember has been developed by Hexcel and the Institute of Polymer Product Engineering (IPPE) at the University of Linz, Engel and Alpex. Hexcel's Director of Sales and Marketing for Automotive, Achim Fischereder, says, "These parts connect either side of a vehicle's chassis together and support its transmission, and must be stiff, strong, and resistant to fatigue. As they are exposed to the road, they must also be resistant to stone chipping and corrosion caused by water and salts."

To meet these requirements, the partners selected HexMC-­i 2000, which is the best-­performing moulding compound currently on the market, to produce the part. HexMC-­i 2000 has been designed specifically to bridge the price–performance gap between sheet-­moulding compounds (SMCs) and prepregs, and is stiffer than steel at approximately a fifth of the density. Further, its mechanical performance is highly consistent.

HexMC-­i 2000 comprises randomly orientated rectangular chips of unidirectional carbon fibre-reinforced prepreg impregnated with Hexcel's M77 snap-­curing epoxy resin to form a 2000gsm sheet material. The moulding compound can cure in as little as two minutes to produce lightweight, strong and stiff parts.

To produce the transmission crossmember, preforms of HexMC-­i 2000 are laid up in moulds fabricated by Alpex and compression-­moulded using a v-­duo press that has been tailored for the application from Engel. Ribs, aluminum inserts and other functions can be moulded into the part using the single-­stage process, reducing component-­count in comparison with metal versions of the part and keeping costs low.

Crucially, any offcuts from the preforms can be interleaved between the plies of material to provide additional reinforcement in key areas - meaning that the process generates no waste whatsoever. Another option being explored by the partners is to transform these offcuts into carbon fibre mat prepreg using techniques developed by Carbon Conversions Inc. (CCI), a company in which Hexcel acquired a stake in late 2016.

Thanks to advanced finite element method (FEM) simulation techniques developed by IPPE, the design of the part is highly optimised, and it demonstrates the strength and fatigue-­resistance demanded by the application.

Achim concludes, "Hexcel is looking forward to working with our partners to further harness the benefits of high-­performance HexMC-­i 2000. Using the predictable, zero­waste process we have developed, we have shown that we can match the performance and price of metallic structural components while reducing weight significantly."


Photo provided by Hexcel




Share this story


Related / You might like...

CSP VICTALL Partners With JMC to Debut the First Composite Pickup Box in China

As the pioneer of composite automotive component suppliers in China, CSP VICTALL announces that Jiangling Motors Corporation (JMC) will use advanced composites for the pickup boxes of its new Yuhu 3 and Yuhu 5 pickup trucks, the first such use of composites in the Chinese automotive industry.

Ineos Styrolution to Build a Production Site for Its Successful Composite StyLight

INEOS Styrolution announces that it is planning to set up a new production site for its successful composite StyLight.

Formula One Composite Technology Creates Lightweight Structures to Protect Troops

Williams Advanced Engineering is working with the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) to develop innovative battlefield shelter protection for troops using Formula One-derived technology and processes created in-house at Williams to create composite 3D structures that can be deployed in theatre.