Bruno Bolzinger, Hexcel’s Reinforcements Marketing Manager, talks to AZoM about the innovative PrimeTex® range of carbon fibre fabrics, and their potential benefits and applications.
Could you please introduce PrimeTex® and explain how it is unique in the field of carbon fibre fabrics?
PrimeTex® is a range of carbon fibre fabrics which have been processed to give a tightly woven and gap-free weave with highly uniform appearance. The objective of the PrimeTex® concept is to process carbon fibres with such care and accuracy that the resulting fabrics are gap-free and uniform even when combining low weights and higher fibre tow sizes. This would be impossible to achieve with classic weaving processes, where bigger tow fibres equate to heavier fabrics.
Could you tell us a little more about Hexcel’s patented spreading processes?
Hexcel started developing fibre spreading technologies over 20 years ago and has continued to progress in this field. The latest product in the range is PrimeTex® 98gsm, 3K which was launched onto the market earlier this year.
How does the way the fibre tows are spread add to the aesthetic appeal of PrimeTex®?
The fibres are flatly woven and spread in both the warp and weft directions. The highly uniform and tightly woven appearance is continuously controlled via Opening Factor measurements.
98 gsm - HexTow® AS4 3K, with an Open Factor of less than 1. ©2013 Hexcel
How does PrimeTex® enhance the mechanical properties of structures?
The combination of a gap-free fabric and reduced crimp lowers the porosity and reduces resin rich areas in the cured laminate, having a very positive influence on mechanical performance including shear and compression strength.
The enhanced performance of PrimeTex® compared to a standard carbon fibre fabric. ©2013 Hexcel
What are the key application areas for PrimeTex®?
The major benefits with PrimeTex® are cost-saving and weight reduction. Costs are reduced because PrimeTex® allows higher K tow carbon fibres to be used for lightweight carbon fabrics. PrimeTex® has been qualified for secondary structures on one of the latest civil aircraft programmes.
Cost reductions also result from the lower porosity in the laminate, which enhances surface quality and reduces man hours during part finishing. One of our customers building regional aircraft has qualified woven prepregs reinforced with PrimeTex® to replace classic woven fabrics.
Meanwhile, weight reductions are achieved without major cost impact by weaving PrimeTex® from higher performance carbon fibres. Over two years ago Fischer Sports introduced PrimeTex® 12K to their C-Line series of alpine skis – and they have also qualified Very Light Weight PrimeTex® for the latest generation of hockey sticks http://www.fischer-hockey.com/en/Hockey/Products/Sticks/Composite-Sticks
Could you briefly explain how Hexcel has been involved with the BMW M6 Gran Coupe?
10 years ago Hexcel was approached by BMW regarding composite roof development for the M3 and M6 models. Being the only weaver able to propose closely woven and uniform width carbon fabrics combined with high and consistent levels of aesthetic appeal, Hexcel was qualified - and has been supplying ever since on a regular basis. The recent launch of the BMW M6 Grand Coupe to replace the previous model has further extended the use of PrimeTex® benefits.
How can PrimeTex® assist if light-weight is a key consideration?
Hexcel has improved the fibre spreading technologies so much that very light weight carbon fibres such as 98 gsm, AS4 3K and 160 gsm, IM 12K are now possible and considered as standard products in Hexcel range. Replacement of low weight 1k fabrics, as well as Intermediate Modulus and High Modulus woven 6K fabrics is now possible with higher K tow at reasonable cost.
How is PrimeTex® utilised in the aerospace industry?
PrimeTex® has now been qualified for major aerospace structures on a new aircraft. That qualification was possible because Hexcel proposed 12K woven fabric with innovative added value to lower the OEM’s costs. PrimeTex® has also been qualified for another current aerospace programme where it is helping the OEM to reduce costs in sandwich structures. Hexcel is now working on new programmes with the objective of offering lighter weight without a cost penalty.
What does the future hold for PrimeTex®? Do you see it being used in more industries in the future?
Sales of PrimeTex® are increasing year on year and Hexcel is well-equipped to meet the growing market demand. We are seeing more and more new opportunities developing in both aerospace and industrial markets. Thanks to PrimeTex® Hexcel is elevating the standards of carbon fibre weaving and bringing the composites industry into a new era.
About Bruno Bolzinger
Bruno Bolzinger is Hexcel’s Reinforcements Marketing Manager, having 23 years’ experience with the company in a variety of roles from Sales Engineer to Market and Product Manager.
In his current role Bruno leads marketing activities for fibre-reinforcements manufactured at Hexcel’s European weaving site based at Les Avenières, France.
In his spare time, Bruno enjoys travelling and motor cycling with his wife. Rowing, sailing and skiing are also among his favourite sports.
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