Prepreg, foam facilities planted to harvest wind blade business

Hexcel's newest glass prepreg plant will be located in Windsor, Colo., and provide material to Vestas for manufacture of wind blades.

Hexcel (Stamford, Conn.) chairman and CEO Dave Berges welcomed Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Great Western Industrial Park president John Lyda, and town mayor John Vazquez to a groundbreaking celebration Feb. 19 at the construction site for Hexcel’s new HexPly glass prepregging facility in Windsor, Colo. Announced in December 2008, the Windsor location provides a central point from which the plant will serve the North American wind energy industry. Since the groundbreaking, foundations have been laid for the 100,000-sq-ft (9,290-sq-m) building, and exterior concrete walls were erected earlier this month. Hexcel expects production to begin at the new plant in the second half of this year.

Hexcel selected Windsor as the location for the plant due to the close proximity of Vestas Wind Systems’ (Randers, Denmark) Colorado wind blade manufacturing facility in the same industrial park, a major customer for prepregs manufactured at the Hexcel plant. Hexcel and Vestas pioneered the use of prepreg in turbine blades more than a decade ago. “The setting up of our plant in Windsor, Colo., is another key step in Hexcel’s establishment of global operations to support the fast-growing wind energy market,” comments Berges, who reports that qualification runs have begun for wind energy materials at Hexcel’s other new facility in Tianjin, China.

In related news, Creative Foam Corp. (Fenton, Mich.) has opened a foam production and kitting facility in nearby Longmont, Colo., reportedly to be near the Vestas facility. The company, which manufactures cellular and noncellular foams and produces foam kits for wind blade and other composite applications, has leased 70,000-sq-ft (6,500-sq-m) in Longmont and will initially employ 15 to 20 people at the facility. Longmont will be the seventh U.S. site for a Creative Foam facility, and the company’s farthest west location.