Hexcel is presenting an array of product innovations for aerospace and urban air mobility customer applications during JEC World 2022 in Paris on May 3-5. These latest innovations demonstrate the company’s leadership in developing advanced composites technology for the aerospace market.
Agreement with Fairmat
In late 2021, Hexcel announced an agreement with Fairmat, a deep technology startup, to build the capability to recycle carbon fiber prepreg from Hexcel European operations for reuse in composite panels sold into commercial markets, giving a second life to recovered carbon fiber. To do so, Fairmat has developed a virtuous recycling process, and a sample of its newly recycled material will be available to view at JEC World 2022.
Reinforcements for OoA Processing
Hexcel HiTape dry UD tapes and HiMax carbon fiber reinforcements have been developed to meet aerospace OEM cycle time and cost reduction targets associated with production rate increases planned for future aircraft programs. Hexcel will display several aerostructure parts that showcase the primary structure developments made possible with its latest OoA solutions including a wing spar demonstrator, designed and manufactured by Airbus, as well as a lattice structure truss beam created by MecanoID using high modulus HiTape materials.
Innovative Resins for Continuous and Shorter Cycle Injection Processes
Specifically developed for out-of-autoclave (OoA) processes such as infusion, RTM or C-RTM, HiFlow resins deliver impressive mechanical properties with adjustable processing time windows to fit all Liquid Composite Molding (LCM) aerospace applications. At JEC 2022, Hexcel will continue to extend its range by adding two new HiFlow resin systems to its portfolio, addressing future industrial challenges in the manufacture of large-scale infused or injected parts for aerospace.
The new HiFlow HF610F-2 and HiFlow 1078-1 resins are delivered as two-component systems, with both components in liquid form. This all-liquid format facilitates easier transportation, storage and handling of the resins, supporting the deployment of robust industrial processes for LCM aerospace parts manufacturing. Both HiFlow HF610F-2 and HiFlow 1078-1 resins have been specially developed for continuous mixing processes and can be accurately monitored by in-line mixing equipment thanks to their optimized viscosity at process temperatures.
HiFlow 1078-1 delivers the benefits of the well-known HexFlow® RTM6 with improved mixing efficiency thanks to its liquid part A and part B components. An Airbus Atlantic wing box demonstrator made with HiTape reinforcements and HiFlow 1078-1 will be on display at JEC. This part has been manufactured using positive pressure, a continuous mixing process and a vacuum bag strategy, demonstrating the capability of the Hexcel materials to address the most stringent aerospace requirements and the technological maturity of the new resins.
HiFlow HF610F-2 has been designed to reduce small/medium parts takt time with an isothermal injection at 180°C and full cure achieved after only 30 minutes at 180°C with no post-cure required.
The HexPly range of prepregs for aerospace includes epoxy formulations providing reliable material solutions across a broad range of highly loaded primary and secondary structure applications including high Tg materials for challenging operating environments. Rolls-Royce is currently producing the world’s largest composite engine fan blades for its UltraFan demonstrator using Hexcel’s HexPly M91 high-toughness epoxy prepregs. Visitors will be able to view an UltraFan blade produced in an entirely automated process from 500 plies of HexPly M91 slit UD carbon fiber tape and woven carbon fiber prepreg. Also on display will be parts from the Airbus Helicopters H160 platform including a composite frame made with the 180˚C cure HexPly M18/1 prepreg system and an avionics bay beam manufactured using the versatile high toughness, fire-resistant, 125˚C cure HexPly M92 prepreg system.
High Modulus Fibers
HexTow carbon fiber is preferred for the world’s most advanced aerospace composite applications. At JEC World 2022, Hexcel will highlight its high modulus HM54 and HM63 fibers which provide the ultimate in high stiffness-to-weight properties. Hexcel also is the recognized leader in supplying high-performance unsized carbon fibers for optimized performance in thermoplastic matrices. HexTow unsized carbon fibers are unique in their processing, which makes it possible to handle them without sizing and allows for optimal bonding with thermoplastics. A wide portfolio of unsized fibers opens many avenues to implementing thermoplastics in aerospace designs and structural components. HexTow unsized carbon fibers are already baselined and qualified on multiple applications with major OEMs.
Thermoplastics and Processing Innovations
Hexcel continues to develop carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic prepreg tapes that will enable faster production of lightweight parts for future generations of aircraft. The company will present its latest thermoplastic (TP) UD tape materials and processing innovations for primary and secondary structures and will display a control surface rib component made by ATC Manufacturing using PEKK/AS4D unidirectional tape and a typical roll of ¼-inch slit tape prepreg. Hexcel will also display a molded thermoplastic panel produced by Lavoisier Composites using composite thermoplastics byproducts.
Solutions for Urban Air Mobility
As part of a dedicated zone highlighting materials for future air mobility applications, Hexcel will detail how its extensive experience in carbon fiber composites for aerospace can deliver lightweight, safe and energy-efficient composite solutions for the emerging UAM market. This display will be anchored by a lift fan blade exhibit manufactured using HexForce and PrimeTex carbon fiber reinforcements and a Rohacell closed cell foam core.