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Industry breakthroughs in carbon fibre and aerospace prepregs launched by Hexcel at JEC 2010

At the world's largest international composites show - JEC, Paris, April 13-15th - Hexcel is launching its latest innovations for aerospace, wind energy and industrial markets.

The new decade opens with Hexcel launching an Intermediate Modulus carbon fiber that meets the industry challenge of achieving over 1,000 ksi tensile strength performance, without compromising outstanding tensile modulus of 44.0 Msi. Called HexTow® IM10, this true breakthrough in IM carbon fiber development builds on Hexcel's 28 years of supplying IM fiber products to the aerospace industry. HexTow® IM7 is widely qualified and used on a number aerospace programs. The new HexTow® IM10 now provides the highest commercially available tensile strength and meets the demands for next generation aerospace programs and applications.

The product innovations from Hexcel's Fibers R&T group have been matched by complementary developments from the Matrix group, which has led to the launch of HexPly® M91. This new generation epoxy prepreg for airframe primary structures and engines expands the performance boundaries for epoxy prepreg, meeting the ever growing needs of aerospace OEMs to manufacture lighter, faster and more efficient aircraft. HexPly® M91 demonstrates excellent toughness, including very high residual compression after impact (CAI). It demonstrates improved tensile performance in combination with both Intermediate Modulus (IM) and High Strength (AS) HexTow® fibers; in particular, achieving outstanding performance in combination with Hexcel's new HexTow® IM10 fiber. Good hot-wet properties up to 120°C (250°F) are also obtained.

HexPly® M91 is supplied as UD tape and has been designed specifically for automated processing and is particularly suited for both automated tape laying (ATL) and advanced fiber placement (AFP).  Good tack life and out-life provide flexibility during processing on the shop floor and low exotherm behavior allows simple cure cycles of thick monolithic structures up to 70mm (2.76").

Patented Bias Weaving Technology

Hexcel has developed a patented process to manufacture continuous rolls of carbon fiber fabric in which the warp and weft yarns are oriented on the bias at +/- 45 degrees. These HexForce® bias weave fabrics provide many cost and weight-saving advantages to customers, notably by reducing prepreg waste and labor operations.

Prepreg waste is greatly reduced as the fabric is woven to the desired width and any kitting waste from cutting standard weave fabrics in the +/-45° direction is eliminated. Previously the process of cutting standard weave fabric into bias kits - for example when producing engine nacelles - could result in up to 60% of the fabric being wasted.

With HexForce® bias weave fabrics the production of parts can be automated, saving valuable man-hours. Slit fabric can be fed directly into a laminator and pattern cutting and lay-up is also greatly simplified.

There are also design benefits with bias weave fabrics and increased design allowable as the warp and weft properties are equal, with equal crimp and therefore provide equal properties in the laminate. The continuous weave provides a constant thickness along the length of the part and splices are eliminated, which allows for simplified tooling as splice build-ups do not have to be taken into account. The risk of porosity is minimized as there is constant thickness throughout the laminate.

HexForce® bias weave fabrics are ideal for high aspect ratio parts that need bias reinforcement such as aircraft ribs, stringers, spars and helicopter blades. They are also used in engine nacelles, aircraft barrel sections and secondary structures. The fabrics are suitable for prepreg and RTM processing and available with HS and IM carbon fibers.

HexPly® M20 prepreg universally approved by CACRC for Aircraft Composite Repair

As more composites-intensive aircraft have entered service around the World there has been an increasing requirement for airlines to carry out composite repair operations. The Commercial Aircraft Composite Repair Committee, CACRC, sets global aerospace standards for composite repair and has selected HexPly® M20 prepregs as the approved repair materials for the industry.

HexPly® M20 prepreg provides high temperature performance from a low energy cure cycle at 120-130°C (250-265°F) and can be processed out in the field using vacuum bag and a heater blanket or hot bonder - or in an autoclave.

Repairing aircraft quickly to have them operational again as soon as possible means that small quantities of materials have to be readily available at all times. Hexcel has appointed Aim Composites as the official distributor of woven carbon and glass products that are available in kit form or as single rolls.

Industry Standard HexFlow® RTM6 resin now available in 2-component format

Resin Transfer Moulding (RTM) allows high quality components to be manufactured, in low to medium volume production rates, without using autoclaves. Large complex shapes can be achieved with good surface quality and a reduced part count. Hexcel's HexFlow® RTM6 was developed 20 years ago and is the European aerospace industry standard for RTM processing. The original mono-component resin system has many years proven service and is favoured for its high glass transition temperatures and short cure cycles.

Now in response to customer demand Hexcel has developed a bi-component format of HexFlow® RTM6, called RTM6-2. With the same chemical composition, this provides the same high mechanical properties as the original resin and is easy to transport by air or sea outside Europe. At customer facilities, this system can be stored at +5°C for 12 months (instead of -18°C for 9 months for HexFlow® RTM6). This new form of HexFlow® RTM6-2 will be available in larger drums (up to 200kg). Hexcel expects the customer base for RTM6 to grow as a result of developing the new bi-component RTM6-2.

New Aluminum version of award-winning HexWeb® Acousti-Cap®

HexWeb® Acousti-Cap® is Hexcel's broadband sound reducing honeycomb - enabling engine designers to achieve superior acoustical performance without a structural weight penalty. 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 their acoustic requirements.

Hexcel has now launched an aluminum version of Acousti-Cap® that provides comparable broadband noise reducing performance, with added cost-saving benefits. Aluminum Acousti-Cap® can withstand temperatures of up to 175°C/350°F during fabrication of the nacelle core blanket and is processable using industry-standard techniques for forming, joining, cutting and machining.

HexPly® M77 rapid curing resin system

To assist recreation and industrial markets in their quest for increasingly more efficient composite solutions that permit production rates to increase, without affecting investment and labor costs, Hexcel has developed a new epoxy resin system able to break the psychological barrier of the 5 minute cure cycle.  

Curing in only 2 minutes at 150°C/300°F, HexPly® M77 brings significant advantages to the market especially as this reactive system also offers a long shelf life of 6 weeks at 23°C.

Other features such as a Tg of 120°C/250°F and good adhesive properties (eg when bonding to aluminum) make HexPly® M77 highly suitable for large volume production as experienced in the manufacture of skis and automotive components. Being conscious that we need to deliver performance without expense to the environment, HexPly® M77 is fully compliant with REACH regulations. Based on HexPly® M77 resin system, Hexcel is now launching a range of prepregs based on glass or carbon reinforcements, in multiaxial form as well as woven fabrics and UD tapes.

Gazechim to Distribute Hexcel Aerospace Products in Europe

In anticipation of the future strong growth in the aerospace market driven by the penetration of composites into aerospace structures, Hexcel is taking a strategic step towards enhancing its service to the aerospace supply chain and in particular to respond to  specific requests from sub contractors for smaller delivery volumes and shorter lead times. 

Guillaume Coustaud, Hexcel's Industry Sales Manager said "we selected the Gazechim group as distributor for Hexcel Aerospace products in Europe because of their experience, knowledge and reliability in the composite industry.  Their ongoing EN9120 certification will make them a key player in the market".

Yves Yemsi, Airbus Vice President Procurement Composite Materials welcomes the initiative by Hexcel and Gazechim to address the specific needs of the Airbus supply chain.

After a successful 20 year business partnership with Hexcel, Jean Guittard, President of the Gazechim Group, appreciates the opportunity to further develop the scope of Hexcel's distribution approach into aerospace and commented: "We are confident in our ability to meet stringent aerospace requirements for the supply of aerospace products."

Press release issued by Hexcel Composites (UK) on April 12, 2010


 Contact details from our directory:
Hexcel Composites (UK) Carbon-reinforced Composites, Honeycomb Core Composites, Prepreg, Composite Adhesive


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