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Hexcel Corporation has acquired Applied Fiber Systems, Ltd based in Clearwater, Florida. AFS will be part of Hexcel’s global composites business unit (Hexcel Composites).
AFS is a manufacturer of continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites, a product line that strategically complements the existing fiber reinforced matrix technologies of Hexcel Composites. Continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites are a class of materials that can replace metals, filling a gap between long fiber reinforced thermoplastic injection molding materials and advanced thermoset composites. This additional technology will enable Hexcel Composites to expand its offering of composite solutions and penetrate higher volume applications in targeted automotive, aerospace, recreation and general industrial markets.
AFS manufactures a flexible thermoplastic-coated tow that is marketed under the TowFlex® brand. TowFlex® is supplied either in tow form, woven into fabric, consolidated into UD tape or post-processed into laminates. The novel TowFlex® technology can be applied to conductive and non-conductive fibers, commodity thermoplastics (e.g. polypropylene, acrylic), engineering thermoplastics (e.g. nylon, PET) and high temperature thermoplastics (e.g. PPS, PEI, PEEK). TowFlex® is ideal for compression molding, matched mold thermoforming, vacuum/pressure assist thermoforming and internal bladder molding.
Richard Roberts, Hexcel Composites’ Director of Business Development, commented:
“Continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastics are emerging as a fast growing composites technology. We are witnessing a technology push to lower cost matrix fiber combinations and a market pull from automotive, aerospace, ordnance and general industrial sectors. The increasing number of molders and designers who understand and use thermoplastic composites are enabling industry growth. Hexcel Composites views the development of thermoplastics as a key technology for the further penetration of composites in mass produced components and is delighted to have made this strategic acquisition.”
Hexcel Composites – Applied Fiber Systems will continue to manufacture and service TowFlex® materials from the existing Clearwater, Florida location. “Our goal with TowFlex® products has been to grow the global opportunities for continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic materials across a wide range of markets,” said Pat Johnson, AFS President. “This agreement enables us to continue this pursuit at a much faster pace. We are excited about the expanded market access, growth potential and technology resources available with Hexcel.”
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