Hexcel joins ASCEND project for composite development acceleration

Hexcel to collaborate and further develop HexPly, HiMax and HiTape technologies and incorporate its Liquid Composite Molding (LCM) products into the project framework. 


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Hexcel to collaborate and further develop HexPly, HiMax and HiTape technologies.

Photo Credit: Hexcel

Hexcel (Cambridge, U.K.) announced on March 29 that it has joined the recently launched U.K.-based project ASCEND (Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development) that will focus on developing high-rate manufacturing and processing technologies that will accelerate the development of new, lightweight advanced composite materials.

Hexcel will join lead partner GKN Aerospace (Solihull, U.K.) and 13 other project stakeholders in a collaboration across the U.K. supply chain to develop the technologies and automation equipment required to manufacture lightweight, more fuel-efficient structures for sustainable air mobility, aerospace and automotive industries.

The company will contribute to the ASCEND project framework, developing a new HexPly fast-cure prepreg system that Hexcel says will significantly reduce component processing times compared to existing aerospace prepregs. 

In addition to a new fast-curing prepreg technology, Hexcel’s range of Liquid Composite Molding (LCM) products will be incorporated into the ASCEND project work packages. The project will use both HiTape advanced unidirectional (UD) dry carbon fiber reinforcements and HiMax multiaxial non-crimp fabrics (NCFs) reinforcements.

The ASCEND project will enable Hexcel to collaborate with Tier 1 companies, engineers, tooling specialists and production equipment OEMs to deliver both prepreg and LCM solutions that meet both the performance targets and satisfy the processing requirements for high-rate automated manufacture. The technical integration enabled by the ASCEND project partnerships will ensure a complete understanding of customer performance and processing needs, coupled with the opportunity to industrialize new technologies using the extensive capabilities of GKN’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol.

“We are proud to be part of the ASCEND program, and we look forward to working with other leading companies as we develop processes and materials that help to make the next generation of sustainable air mobility, aerospace and automotive vehicles possible,” Paul Mackenzie, senior vice president and CTO of Hexcel says. “This project offers the perfect platform for Hexcel to collaborate and further develop our HexPly, HiMax and HiTape technologies.”

U.K.-based Assyst Bullmer (Wakefield), Cobham Mission Systems (Wimborne), Cygnet Texkimp (Northwich), FAR-UK Ltd. (West Bridgford), Hive Composites (Leicestershire), LMAT, Loop Technology (Dorchester), McLaren Automotive (Woking), the National Composites Centre (NCC, Bristol), Rafinex (London), Sigmatex (Chesire), Solvay Composite Materials, as well as Airborne (Lambourn) and Des Composites (Sheffield). Together, the group looks forward to delivering the material and automation innovations that will power more sustainable mobility solutions of the future.