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At this year’s Paris Airshow Hexcel showed its latest developments in composite materials, and celebrated its involvement in major new aerospace programmes.
Hexcel is a principal supplier of composites to the A380 programme. Hexcel’s HexPly prepregs: M21, 8552, F655 and M26T have been selected for key components including the central wing box, vertical and horizontal stabilizer skins, stringers and stiffeners, tailcone and belly fairing. Hexcel’s RTM 6 resin and Injectex fabrics, M36 film infusion resin, Redux adhesives, HexWeb honeycombs and special process components will also be used extensively on the A380.
Hexcel will display a section of the A380 central wingbox skin, manufactured by EADS Airbus Nantes and built in HexPly M21 prepreg. HexPly M21 is a tough epoxy matrix, which provides higher damage tolerance than current aerospace systems. Also on display at the Hexcel stand will be a demonstrator model of the A380 tailcone (section 19.1) built by EADS Airbus, Illescus, Spain, using HexPly 8552 slit tape prepreg. The tailcone is manufactured using automated fibre placement, a computerised process combining automated tape laying and filament winding for tight tolerance control and exact reproduction of the part. Hexcel has introduced new technology at its plant in Parla, Spain, to produce very accurately slit prepreg tape, in widths as narrow as 3.2mm.
HexPly 8552 is used to manufacture all composite structures on the Eurofighter Typhoon, including the wings, front fuselage and tail section. On display at the Hexcel booth was the vertical stabiliser, manufactured by BAE Systems Ltd. Dassault supplied Hexcel with a demonstrator part of the new Falcon 7X business jet. The landing gear door is modeled on the Falcon 900 design and manufactured by Resin Transfer Moulding using Hexcel’s G986 high resistance carbon fibre reinforcement and RTM 6 resin.
Helicopter programmes are also major consumers of Hexcel’s composite materials. HexPly M18-1 and M42 prepregs have been selected by Eurocopter for structural components on the NH90 and Tiger helicopters. On the Le Bourget stand was a transmission tube for the Tiger helicopter, manufactured by tube winding, using HexPly 6376 carbon tape.
Another Airbus part on show was a wing rib, manufactured by resin film infusion as part of the TANGO programme. TANGO is a pan European initiative devised to develop and mature new technologies, capable of delivering 20% cost and weight savings, for current state of the art aircraft structures. The wing rib was manufactured in Australia by the Cooperative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures (CRC-ACS) and Hawker de Havilland (HdH). Five wing ribs were manufactured and delivered to Airbus in December 2002. Hexcel’s G926 5HS HTA woven carbon fibre fabric, with EB6 binder and HexPly 36 toughened resin film system were the materials used.
For the first time, Hexcel displayed an aerospace part manufactured in thermoplastic materials. CRC-ACS and HdH manufactured a high quality thermoplastic aircraft control surface using Hexcel’s TowFlex continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastics. The non-specific control surface encapsulates many geometric aspects of aerospace composite components and was produced as part of a demonstration programme on the manufacture technologies for thermoplastic composites.
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