Hexcel reports material use in 787 Dreamliner

With delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner to launch customer ANA on Sept. 26, Hexcel reports on use of its HexMC and Accousti-Cap technology on the composites-intensive aircraft.

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Hexcel (Stamford, Conn., USA) on Sept. 26 noted that its composite materials are used extensively on the 787 Dreamliner, which was delivered by The Boeing Co. (Everett, Wash., USA) to launch customer ANA (Tokyo, Japan) on Sept. 26.

The 787 Dreamliner is the first commercial transport aircraft designed with advanced composite materials for the wing, fuselage and empennage primary structure. Hexcel’s carbon fiber, 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. Hexcel estimates revenue on the 787 to be between $1.3 and $1.6 million per airplane — depending on the engine selection.

One material used extensively is Hexcel's HexMC, a product form of composite material that is derived from established aerospace industry high-strength carbon fiber/epoxy tape. HexMC is said to offer 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. HexMC parts reportedly provide weight savings that are comparable to those achieved with aerospace carbon/epoxy prepregs.

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 aluminum frame. In addition, the frame is said to offer superior damage tolerance.

The plane also uses Hexcel’s 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. 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 acoustic requirements without incurring a structural weight penalty.