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JEC World 2018: Hexcel Presents Innovations for Aerospace, Automotive, Wind Energy and Marine

JEC World 2018: Hexcel Presents Innovations for Aerospace, Automotive, Wind Energy and Marine

  • Tuesday, 27th February 2018
  • Reading time: about 7 minutes

Hexcel will display an array of product innovations for customer applications in aerospace, automotive, wind energy and marine markets.

Hexcel’s banner at the exhibit hall entrance features the Airbus H160 helicopter and A350 XWB aircraft, both with carbon fibre livery to acknowledge the high Hexcel composites content in both programmes. Hexcel’s reinforcements, prepregs, adhesives and honeycomb materials were selected for the H160’s composite fuselage structures and main rotor blades, contributing to a lightweight fuel-saving design and performance optimisation. Airbus has loaned Hexcel an H160 BLUE EDGE blade to display.

Among the aerospace promotions at Hexcel’s booth are carbon-reinforced 3D printed parts, made from Hexcel’s HexAM additive manufacturing technology that uses PEKK ultra-high performance polymers. Hexcel acquired this technology from Oxford Performance Materials in December 2017 to provide a weight-saving solution for intricate parts in demanding aerospace, satellite and defence applications. HexPEKK structures are said to offer significant weight, cost and time-to-market reductions, replacing traditional cast or machined metallic parts.

Aircraft engines benefit from a number of Hexcel technologies that will be promoted at JEC, 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.

Another honeycomb innovation is Acousti-Cap broadband noise-reducing honeycomb that significantly improves acoustic absorption in aircraft engine nacelles. The acoustic treatment may be positioned at a consistent depth and resistance within the core, or can be placed in a pattern of varying depths and/or resistances, offering an acoustic liner that is precisely tuned to the engine operating conditions. These technologies have been tested at NASA on a full engine test rig and meet all 16 design conditions without trade-offs. An example of this technology will be on display.

Rounding off the aircraft engine exhibits is a CTi fan blade for new generation lightweight turbofan engines from Rolls-Royce, manufactured from Hexcel’s HexPly M91 high toughness and impact-resistant epoxy prepreg. Hexcel supplies HexPly M91 as slit tape for the automated lay-up of the complex aerodynamic shape, with a constantly changing thickness across the blade length. The blade which is thinner and lighter than titanium fan blades is currently undergoing flight tests.

Hexcel’s HiTape and HiMax dry carbon reinforcements were developed for the automated lay-up of preforms for resin-infused aerospace structures. Two demonstrator parts, one made with HiMax and one with HiTape, were both infused with HexFlow RTM6 resin to demonstrate the potential benefits of an integrated design for aircraft skins, spars and stiffeners that meets OEM requirements for production rate increases and cost effectiveness.

Hexcel is also introducing its new range of HiFlow advanced liquid resins for aerospace structures manufactured by liquid moulding technologies. Based on proprietary chemistry, the new resin family will enhance the performance of composites and ease processing when combined with HiTape and HiMax dry carbon reinforcements. HiFlow HF610 is the first resin in the range.

Hexcel’s range of high performance adhesives has expanded following the company’s acquisition of Structil last October. Hexcel is relaunching the acquired products under the HexBond brand name. This range of pastes, liquid shim and film adhesives has a wide spectrum of operating temperatures and is in qualification with aerospace and industrial OEMs.

In the Planet Aerospace area at JEC, Daher and Hexcel will display an aircraft spar manufactured from HexPly M56 prepreg. Hexcel’s Neil Parker and Daher R&T Director Dominique Bailly will give a joint presentation focusing on the materials used and the benefits for the finished part. The aircraft spar was designed and manufactured by Daher using Hexcel’s HexPly M56 prepreg, in slit tape format that was developed for automated deposition and out-of-autoclave curing. The spar was manufactured using only the vacuum bag process and demonstrates very low porosity levels. It is currently undergoing testing and validation through CORAC funding.

Hexcel’s automotive promotions include a new prepreg for composite leaf springs, HexPly M901. In contrast to steel leaf springs used for suspension on vans, trucks and SUVs, newer composite versions offer many advantages including weight savings of up to 70%, high corrosion resistance, optimised system integration and superior performance. HexPly M901 prepreg raises the bar further, reducing mould cure time below 15 minutes, a 50% reduction compared to standard industrial prepregs. HexPly M901 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. Hexcel’s expertise in manufacturing heavy weight glass UD prepregs, with fibre areal weights of up to 1600 gsm, allows the company to offer a highly cost-competitive solution for the rapid manufacture of these safety critical components.

Hexcel is constantly seeking ways to ensure that customers obtain the maximum benefit from composites and has recently acquired simulation technology that accurately predicts how HiMax non-crimp fabrics will drape in a mould. Working in collaboration with Nottingham University, Hexcel has created a car seat shell for which the material selection was optimised using this new drape simulation technology. Visitors to Hexcel’s stand will see an on-screen demonstration that illustrates how the simulation tool operates, predicting process and performance and ensuring that the optimum fabric architecture is quickly identified, reducing the need for expensive trial programmes.

Hexcel’s HexMC-i 2000 carbon fibre/epoxy moulding compound has been used by Audi to manufacture a high-performance engine cross brace. This fast curing high-performance moulding material is suitable for the series production of complex shaped parts and providing excellent mechanical properties. The Audi cross brace covers the engine, providing torsional stiffness for enhanced drive dynamics.

Hexcel’s product offering for customers in the marine industry has expanded following the acquisition of Formax in 2016 and Structil in 2017. At JEC, Hexcel will promote its enhanced portfolio of carbon fibres, prepregs, woven reinforcements and multiaxial fabrics for builders of racing catamarans and luxury yachts. Marine customers have supplied a number of parts for display. These include part of a Diam 24 yacht mast made by ADH Inotec from Hexcel’s HexPly M79 fast curing, low temperature cure prepreg. ADH Inotec purchased the prepreg from Composites Distribution, a Hexcel distributor that also supplied HexPly M9.6 prepreg to Lorima for the Outremer 5X catamaran mast section on display. Part of Lorima’s 42m wing mast for a multihull racing boat made with HexPly prepreg from Vert-Le-Petit (formerly Structil) will complete the marine display.

Hexcel’s innovations for wind energy include Polyspeed pultruded laminates for load-carrying elements in wind blades. These continuous cross-section profiles, made from a polyurethane matrix reinforced with unidirectional carbon fibre, provide consistently high mechanical properties, including high stiffness, fracture toughness and shear strength, combined with low weight and durability. Visitors to Hexcel’s stand will see a 2 m diameter coil of pultruded carbon laminate that contains 255 m of material in a single roll. This technology offers an economical way of reinforcing large-scale composite structures such as wind turbine blades.

Hexcel will also launch its surface finishing prepreg for wind turbine blades and components. This provides a tough, durable and ready-to-paint blade surface without the use of gel-coat and results in faster blade manufacture, saving time in production and reducing material costs. The benefits of the new surfacing prepreg will be demonstrated via a wind blade exhibit that has been given four different treatments across the blade surface.

Visit Hexcel in Hall 5, Stand J41 at JEC World 2018.

Image provided by Hexcel

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