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Hexcel’s Composite Innovations For Aerospace, Automotive, Energy And Marine Applications

  • Monday, 4th March 2019
  • Reading time: about 5 minutes

At this year’s JEC World Hexcel will promote a wide range of composite innovations for customer applications in aerospace, automotive, energy and marine markets.

Aerospace Innovations

Hexcel’s HiTape and HiMax  dry carbon reinforcements were developed to complement a new generation of HiFlow  resin systems, producing high quality aerospace structures using the resin infusion process. HiTape was developed for the automated lay-up of preforms and HiMax  is a range of optimised non-crimp fabrics (NCF). Both products incorporate a toughening veil to enhance mechanical properties, meeting the structural requirements for aerospace parts.

Visitors to JEC will see an Integrated Wing Panel demonstrator and an I-beam, both made with HiTape reinforcements, and an Opticoms rib made with HiMax  NCF. The Opticoms rib and I Beam were both manufactured using C-RTM (Compression Resin Transfer moulding). They were injected with Hexcel’s RTM6 resin in a process taking less than 5 minutes. The total manufacturing cycle for both parts was just 4.5 hours.

Also among the Aerospace exhibits, Hexcel will display a composite petal for a satellite antenna, manufactured by Thales Alenia Space Italia. The petal is part of a set of 24 deployable structural elements that form the large area reflector assembly used on board Low Earth Orbit (LEO) observation satellites. Thales Alenia Space Italia selected Hexcel’s HexPly M18 prepreg for this application, acknowledging the superior mechanical and outgassing properties provided.

Aircraft engines benefit from a number of Hexcel core technologies including HexShield  honeycomb that provides high temperature resistance in aircraft engine nacelles. By inserting a thermally resistant material into honeycomb cells, Hexcel provides a core product with unique heat-shielding capabilities that allows for the potential re-use of material after a fire event.

HexBond  – the new name in Adhesives

Hexcel’s range of high performance adhesives has expanded considerably following the company’s acquisition of Structil. The company has now decided to unite the range by marketing all of its adhesive products using HexBond  branding. The comprehensive range of HexBond structural film adhesives, foaming adhesive films, paste adhesives, liquid shims, epoxy fillets and Chromium free liquid primers is suitable for a wide range of applications in combination with Hexcel’s prepreg and honeycomb products.

Automotive Innovations

Hexcel’s carbon prepreg patch technology provides an innovative way of locally stiffening and reinforcing metal parts, providing noise and vibration management functionality. HexPly prepreg patches consist of unidirectional carbon fibre impregnated with a fast curing epoxy matrix that has self-adhesive properties, enabling it to bond to metal in a highly efficient one-step process. These key technology properties are demonstrated in an 18.5kg aluminum subframe (that is 50% lighter than steel equivalents), which was reinforced with 500 grams of HexPly prepreg and tested by Saint Jean Industries. The part demonstrates a significant reduction in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Other benefits include lower production costs, energy savings, increased driver comfort, production flexibility and part count reduction. With this technology Hexcel is a finalist in the JEC Innovation Awards 2019 in the Automotive Applications category.

HexPly prepreg patch technology was also applied to a hybrid side sill demonstrator developed with Volkswagen and Dresden University to address future crash test requirements, specifically for electric cars. Combining fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) with metal, the hybrid construction allows for optimum performance including weight savings, enhanced safety, increased energy absorption, battery To produce the transmission crossmember HexMC-i 2000 preforms are laid up in Alpex moulds and compression-moulded in a v-duo press that was tailored for the application by Engel. Ribs, aluminum inserts and other functions can be moulded into the part using the single-stage process, reducing component-count. 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.

Other Automotive promotions on Hexcel’s stand at JEC World include a composite leaf spring manufactured by ZF using HexPly M901 prepreg. In contrast to steel leaf springs, composite versions offer many advantages including weight savings of up to 70%, high corrosion resistance, optimised system integration and superior performance. HexPly M901 prepreg reduces the cure cycle to below 15 minutes and provides 15% higher mechanical performance, with enhanced fatigue properties. It also operates at high temperatures, providing a Tg of up to 200°C following a post cure.

Marine Innovations

Hexcel has a comprehensive range of products aimed at racing yacht and luxury boat builders that include America’s Cup, IMOCA class and DNV GL-approved prepregs, woven reinforcements and multiaxial fabrics for hull and deck structures, masts and appendages.

At JEC World, Hexcel will display an IMOCA yacht mast manufactured by Lorima using HexPly high modulus and high strength carbon fibre prepreg from Hexcel Vert-Le-Petit. Lorima is the exclusive official supplier of masts for IMOCA 60 class racing boats.

Hexcel’s HexTow IM8 carbon fibre has been selected as the highest performing industrial carbon fibre on the market and will be used by spar and rigging manufacturer Future Fibres to manufacture their AEROrazr solid carbon rigging for all the teams in the 36th America’s Cup.

Wind Energy Innovations

Hexcel has developed a range of HexPly surface finishing prepregs and semi-pregs for wind turbine blades and marine applications. Providing a tough, durable and ready-to-paint surface without using in-mould coats, these products shorten the manufacturing cycle and reduce material costs. HexPly XF2(P) prepreg is optimised for wind blades and has a ready-to-paint surface, straight from the mould, saving at least 2 hours of takt time.

Visit Hexcel in Hall 5, Stand J41 at JEC World 2019.

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