Hexcel’s carbon fibre, structural prepregs, reinforcing fabrics, honeycomb core and engineered parts are used in many applications throughout the 787, particularly in the plane’s engines and nacelles, interiors and secondary structures.
According to Hexcel, a particular innovation used on the 787 Dreamliner is HexMC, a new product form of composite material which is derived from established aerospace industry high strength carbon fibre/epoxy tape. They explain that HexMC offers low density, with good strength and stiffness properties, enabling complex shapes that would previously have had to be machined or forged from metal to be manufactured in composites in cost-effective series production. They say HexMC parts provide weight savings that are comparable to those achieved with aerospace carbon/epoxy prepregs.
Hexcel say hundreds of HexMC parts have been certified for the 787 Dreamliner including Window Frames, Brackets, Fittings, Gussets, Clips/Cleats, Intercostals and Pans. The HexMC window frame has a significant impact on two key characteristics of the Dreamliner. The new low density, high strength composite frame results in almost a 50 percent weight saving over a traditional aluminium frame. In addition, the frame offers superior damage tolerance.
The 787 Dreamliner is a quiet aircraft, and Hexcel explain that both engine options benefit from their Acousti-Cap technology in the nacelle inner barrel acoustic treatment. Acousti-Cap consists of a permeable cap material embedded into a non-metallic honeycomb to create an acoustic septum resulting in a product that is tuned to the customers’ acoustic requirements without incurring a structural weight penalty.
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