Hexcel expands aerospace, automotive fabrics capacity

Hexcel’s Leicester, UK, facility is being expanded for the development and manufacture of carbon fiber fabrics and resins for large-part, out-of-autoclave composites manufacturing.

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Hexcel (Stamford, CT, US) reported on Sept. 12 that it is launching a new UK government-backed £7.4 million research and development project, called MAXIM, and expanding its manufacturing facility in Leicester, UK.

The four-year Multi Axial Infused Materials (MAXIM) project, backed by the UK Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and match-funded by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, will develop progressive, cost-effective materials and manufacturing solutions for large out-of-autoclave (OOA) aerospace and automotive composite structures. The goal of the MAXIM project is to enable complex structures, such as aircraft wings, to be manufactured more cost effectively, OOA and at faster production rates from composites.

Hexcel is expanding its Leicester plant by installing equipment for carbon fiber non-crimp fabrics development, and lab equipment for research into this technology. The company will work closely with the National Composites Centre (NCC, Bristol, UK) to leverage its expertise in material handling and part processing.

“MAXIM is a welcome investment in the Midlands economy and the UK aerospace and automotive sectors, supporting the type of high-skilled jobs we are committed to delivering through our Industrial Strategy,” says Richard Harrington, UK Business Minister. “This project will build our expertise and reputation in this cutting-edge field, delivering world-leading research and development on the production of new composite materials for large structures. This will enable composite structures such as aircraft wings and car bodies to be manufactured faster, greener and more cost-effectively.”

Thierry Merlot, president – aerospace, Europe/MEA/Asia Pacific, Hexcel, says: “Investment in this project in Leicester will allow Hexcel to advance key out-of-autoclave technologies that can provide a step change in the cost-effective production of composite parts for commercial aircraft and passenger cars. The project will support the development of new materials that the aerospace industry in particular can adopt with confidence to meet the high build rate requirements for future programs.”

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