JEC World 2018 preview: Hexcel
Hexcel (Hall 5, J41) is featuring products for customer applications in aerospace, automotive, wind energy and marine markets.
Among the aerospace promotions at Hexcel’s stand are carbon fiber-reinforced 3D printed parts, made from Hexcel’s HexAM additive manufacturing technology that uses PEKK ultra-high performance polymers. Hexcel acquired this technology from Oxford Performance Materials in December 2017 to provide a weight-saving solution for intricate parts in highly demanding aerospace, satellite and defense applications. HexPEKK structures offer significant weight, cost and time-to-market reductions, replacing traditional cast or machined metallic parts with a new technology.
Aircraft engines benefit from a number of Hexcel technologies being promoted, including HexShield honeycomb that provides high temperature resistance in aircraft engine nacelles. By inserting a thermally resistant material into honeycomb cells, Hexcel provides a core product with unique heat-shielding capabilities that allows for the potential re-use of material after a fire event.
Another honeycomb from Hexcel is Acousti-Cap broadband noise-reducing honeycomb that is said to significantly improves acoustic absorption in aircraft engine nacelles. The acoustic treatment may be positioned at a consistent depth and resistance within the core, or can be placed in a pattern of varying depths and/or resistances, offering an acoustic liner that is precisely tuned to engine operating conditions. These technologies have been tested at NASA on a full engine test rig and meet all 16 design conditions without trade-offs. An example of this technology is on display.
Rounding off the aircraft engine exhibits is a CTi fan blade for next-generation lightweight turbofan engines from Rolls-Royce, manufactured from Hexcel’s HexPly M91 high-toughness and impact-resistant epoxy prepreg. Hexcel supplies HexPly M91 as slit tape for the automated lay-up of the complex aerodynamic shape, with a constantly changing thickness across the blade length. The blade, which is thinner and lighter than titanium fan blades, is currently undergoing flight tests.
Hexcel’s HiTape and HiMax dry carbon fiber reinforcements that were developed for the automated lay-up of preforms for resin-infused aerospace structures are at the show. Two demonstrator parts, one made with HiMax and one with HiTape, were both infused with HexFlow RTM6 resin to demonstrate the potential benefits of an integrated design for aircraft skins, spars and stiffeners that meets OEM requirements for production rate increases and cost effectiveness.
Hexcel is also introducing its new range of HiFlow advanced liquid resins for aerospace structures manufactured by liquid molding technologies. Based on novel proprietary chemistry, the new resin family repotedly will enhance the performance of composites and ease processing when combined with HiTape and HiMax dry carbon reinforcements. HiFlow HF610 is the first resin in the range.
Hexcel’s range of high-performance adhesives has expanded considerably following the company’s acquisition of Structil last October. Hexcel is relaunching the acquired products under the new HexBond brand. This fast-growing range of pastes, liquid shim and film adhesives has a spectrum of operating temperatures and is in qualification with several aerospace and industrial OEMs.
In the Planet Aerospace area at JEC, Daher and Hexcel will jointly display an aircraft spar manufactured from HexPly M56 prepreg. Hexcel’s Neil Parker and Daher R&T Director Dominique Bailly will give a joint presentation focusing on the materials used and the benefits for the finished part. The aircraft spar was designed and manufactured by Daher using Hexcel’s HexPly M56 prepreg, in slit tape format, that was developed for automated deposition and out-of-autoclave curing. The spar was manufactured using only the vacuum bag process and demonstrates very low porosity levels. It is currently undergoing testing and validation through CORAC funding.
Hexcel’s automotive promotions nclude a new prepreg for composite leaf springs, HexPly M901. In contrast to steel leaf springs used for suspension on vans, trucks and SUVs, newer composite versions offer many advantages including weight savings of up to 70%, high corrosion resistance, optimized system integration and superior performance. Hexcel’s HexPly M901 prepreg raises the bar further, reducing mold cure time below 15 minutes, a 50% reduction compared to standard industrial prepregs. HexPly M901 provides 15% higher mechanical performance, with enhanced fatigue properties. It also operates at high temperatures, providing a Tg of up to 200°C following a post cure. Hexcel’s expertise in manufacturing heavy weight glass UD prepregs, with fiber areal weights of up to 1600 gsm, reportedly allows the company to offer a highly cost-competitive solution for the rapid manufacture of these safety-critical components.
Hexcel has recently acquired state-of-the-art simulation technology that predicts how HiMax non-crimp fabrics will drape in a mold. Working in collaboration with Nottingham University, Hexcel has created a car seat shell for which the material selection was optimized using this new drape simulation technology. Visitors to Hexcel’s stand will see an on-screen demonstration that illustrates how the simulation tool operates, predicting process and performance and ensuring that the optimum fabric architecture is quickly identified, reducing the need for expensive trial programs.
Hexcel’s HexMC-i 2000 carbon fiber/epoxy molding compound has been successfully used by Audi to manufacture a high-performance engine cross brace. HexMC-i is a fast-curing, high-performance molding material, suitable for the series production of complex-shaped parts and provides good mechanical properties. The Audi cross brace covers the engine, providing torsional stiffness for enhanced drive dynamics.
Hexcel’s product offering for customers in the marine industry has expanded following the acquisition of Formax in 2016 and Structil in 2017. Hexcel will promote its enhanced portfolio of carbon fibers, prepregs, woven reinforcements and multiaxial fabrics for builders of racing catamarans and luxury yachts.
Marine customers have supplied a number of parts for display to illustrate their expertise in manufacturing composite structures from Hexcel materials. These include part of a Diam 24 yacht mast made by ADH Inotec from Hexcel’s HexPly M79 fast-curing, low-temperature cure prepreg. ADH Inotec purchased the prepreg from Composites Distribution, a Hexcel Official Distributor that also supplied HexPly M9.6 prepreg to Lorima for the Outremer 5X catamaran mast section on display. Part of Lorima’s 42m wing mast for a multihull racing boat made with HexPly prepreg from Vert-Le-Petit (formerly Structil) will complete the marine display.
Hexcel’s solutions for wind energy include Polyspeed pultruded laminates for load-carrying elements in wind blades. These continuous cross-section profiles, made from a polyurethane matrix reinforced with unidirectional carbon fiber, reportedly provide consistently high mechanical properties, including high stiffness, fracture toughness and shear strength, combined with low weight and durability. Visitors to Hexcel’s stand will see a 2m diameter coil of pultruded carbon laminate that contains 255m of material in a single roll. This technology is said to offer an economical way of reinforcing large-scale composite structures such as wind turbine blades.
Hexcel is also launching its surface finishing prepreg for wind turbine blades and components. This provides a tough, durable and ready-to-paint blade surface without the use of gel coat and results in faster blade manufacture, saving time in production and reducing material costs. The benefits of the new surfacing prepreg will be demonstrated via a wind blade exhibit that has been given four treatments across the blade surface. These include a section with gel coat, a section of standard prepreg without gel coat, and a section where a fleece has been added to improve surface quality but still requires preparation before painting due to pin holes. The final section made with new HexPly XF2P surfacing prepreg has a ready-to-paint surface, straight from the mold, without any requirement for gel coat, fleece or finishing operations.
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