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At the JEC exhibition in Paris this year, March 29-31st, Hexcel’s promotion will be organized into three distinct zones representing aerospace, wind energy and industrial applications. In each zone Hexcel will showcase the latest technologies that are providing innovative solutions to a wide range of challenges faced by customers.
In the Aerospace zone Hexcel will display an Airbus A350 XWB spar section demonstrator manufactured by GKN using Hexcel’s HexPly M21E/IMA slit tape prepreg for Automated Fibre Placement (AFP). GKN was awarded the contract to supply the A350 XWB Rear Spar and Fixed Trailing Edge Assembly which forms the aft section of the lateral wing box and supports the landing gear attachment and trailing edge flight control surfaces and sub-structure. The A350 XWB spar is one of the first structural aircraft components to be manufactured by AFP using a thicker 268 gsm fiber areal weight slit tape, which leads to rapid laying-down and faster processing. Very tight width tolerances are being achieved with the HexPly® M21E prepreg.
Hexcel was awarded the contract by Airbus to supply HexPly® M21E prepreg, reinforced with HexTow® IMA carbon fiber, for all of the A350 XWB primary structures. Great progress has been made in recent months with various primary composite structures having been successfully manufactured by Airbus and its Risk Sharing Partners using HexPly® M21E including wing spars and wing covers, fuselage sections, keel beam and central wing box.
As a leading supplier of composites for the aerospace industry, Hexcel has developed a wide range of product solutions for aircraft engines and nacelles, where they bring a number of benefits including weight reduction, fuel optimization, greater strength, higher toughness, high temperature performance, broadband noise reduction and Out Of Autoclave processing.
HexWeb® Acousti-Cap® is Hexcel’s broadband sound reducing honeycomb that enables engine designers to achieve superior acoustical performance without a structural weight penalty. Acousti-Cap® consists of a permeable cap material embedded into a non-metallic honeycomb to create an acoustic septum. Customers specify the flow resistance characteristics, overall core thickness, number of caps in a cell and insertion depth. The result is a product tuned to their acoustic requirements. Quieter engines bring a number of advantages including recurring cost-savings from lower landing fees at airports, increased fleet flexibility and improved cabin comfort.
Hexcel has added an aluminum version of Acousti-Cap® to the product range that provides comparable broadband noise reducing performance, with added cost-saving benefits. Aluminum Acousti-Cap® can withstand temperatures of up to 175°C/350°F during fabrication of the nacelle core blanket and is processable using industry-standard techniques for forming, joining, cutting and machining.
HexMC® is Hexcel’s patentedcarbon fiber/epoxy compression molding material and technology that enables structural complex-shaped parts to be molded cost-effectively. Since HexMC® was launched hundreds of HexMC® parts have been qualified for use on commercial aircraft, bringing weight-saving and performance advantages. Improvements and new features on show at JEC will include an engine OGV (Outlet Guide Vane) demonstrator, which is a great candidate to benefit from HexMC® technology while providing weight savings that are comparable – or better – than those achieved with other aerospace carbon/epoxy solutions.
Since Hexcel launched its highly successful HexPly® M65 third generation Bismaleimide (BMI) prepreg five years ago various prepreg forms of HexPly® M65 have been progressively introduced including in 2010 a version optimized for Automated Tape Laying (ATL) using high modulus carbon fiber for satellite applications. The latest development is a slit tape version of HexPly® M65/AS7, slit in widths of 1/8 inch for fiber placement technology. The Eurocopter group has successfully manufactured a demonstrator of a complex shaped sandwich fairing for helicopters made entirely from this 1/8 inch slit tape, constructed as a sandwich structure with HexWeb® HRH10 engineered core and bonded with Redux® HP655 adhesive film, all products from Hexcel. This industry advancement will also be on display on Hexcel’s stand at JEC.
In the Wind Energy zone Hexcel will be displaying a wind blade spar cap demonstrator manufactured using Hexcel’s new SuperCap™ heavy UD carbon fiber/epoxy prepregs. The laminate quality achieved with SuperCap™ is very high due to the use of Hexcel’s patented Grid Technology where the grid assists in removing air during vacuum bag process and ensures that the void content in the final unidirectional carbon laminate is very low. This gives superior mechanical performance, translating carbon fibre modulus into laminate modulus. Hexcel recently initiated a design study with aerodyn Energiesysteme GmbH to evaluate the weight-saving implications of producing wind blade spar caps from prepreg. The conclusions from the study were that the use of prepreg rather than infusion could result in a total cost saving of approximately 1,300 Euros per blade, based on potential savings in material costs and man-hours in production.
In the Industrial zone Hexcel will be displaying an impressive demonstrator tool for an aircraft winglet made from HexTOOL® M61, Hexcel’s BMI tooling material. This part shows the excellent quality that is achieved when machining HexTOOL®, a material that enables the tolerance accuracy achieved with metals to be combined with the extreme lightness of carbon fiber composites.
Hexcel is also promoting PrimeTex™, a range of carbon fabrics which have been processed for a smooth weave with a high degree of closure that gives outstanding visual quality. In the patented PrimeTex™ process the fiber tows are spread in both the warp and weft direction providing a more uniform weave and a thinner, more closely woven fabric that leads to better mechanical properties and less porosity in a laminate. PrimeTex™ can also be used to lower the mass in a composite where weight-saving is a prime objective. PrimeTex™ can be made with larger tow fibers without any weight increase and the 12K 200gsm PrimeTex™ variant, with unrivalled quality for a 12K fabric, is being used for both sports equipment and transport applications meeting the challenge of cost optimization while providing a unique quality appearance.
HexPly® M77 is a new prepreg resin system from Hexcel that cures in less than 5 minutes, providing a very fast and efficient composite manufacturing process. Curing in only 2 minutes at 300°F/150°C, HexPly® M77 brings significant advantages especially as this reactive system also has a long shelf life of 6 weeks at 23°C. Other features such as a Tg of 120°C/250°F and good adhesive properties (for example when bonding to aluminum) make HexPly® M77 highly suitable for large volume production, particularly in the automotive industry and for sports equipment manufacture. HexPly® M77 is also fully compliant with REACH regulations. Based on HexPly® M77 resin system, Hexcel has launched a range of prepregs with glass or carbon reinforcements in multiaxial form – as well as woven fabrics and UD tapes.
Hexcel Corporation is a leading advanced composites company. It develops, manufactures and markets lightweight, high-performance structural materials, including carbon fibers, reinforcements for composites, prepregs, honeycomb, matrix systems, adhesives and composite structures, used in commercial aerospace, space and defense and industrial applications.