At this year’s SAMPE USA show Hexcel continues to showcase its innovation leadership in composite materials. Visitors to the Hexcel booth at SAMPE will discover some of the latest developments for the Aerospace market – from advanced carbon fiber reinforcements for aircraft primary structures to stringer samples from the Airbus A350 program.
HiTape® Advanced Reinforcements for Out of Autoclave (OOA) Processed Aircraft Primary Structures
HiTape® combines the benefits of automated processing and the cost-effectiveness of infusion technologies - with the high performance achieved with primary structure prepregs. The UD tape based on HexTow® carbon fiber allows dry preforms to be manufactured in a fully automated lay-up process with deposition rates as high as 50Kg/h – without any material splicing or removal of polythene film.
Parts produced with HiTape® reinforcements and HexFlow® infusion resins can be up to 30mm thick with a 58 to 60% Fiber Volume Content. The mechanical properties are therefore as high as those found in parts made with the latest generation primary structure prepregs.
Customer evaluations have demonstrated that significant cost-savings are achievable with HiTape® and the associated vacuum infusion process. HiTape® has been used to great effect by Aerocomposit for wing prototype components. Spirit AeroSystems has also successfully used HiTape® to form the skin of an engine nacelle outer fan cowl – a part which will be displayed at Hexcel’s booth at SAMPE. Video footage from Coriolis and M Torres will demonstrate the speed and efficiency of the HiTape® preform lay-up process.
Airbus A350 XWB Getting Ready for Take-Off
Hexcel celebrates its partnership with Airbus as the A350 XWB makes its first flight later this year. In 2008, Airbus awarded Hexcel the contract to be the sole source material supplier for all of the aircraft’s composite primary structural parts. These include entire fuselage panels, keel beam, the entire wing (covers, spars and centre wing box) and empennage – all of which are made with Hexcel’s HexPly® M21E prepreg systems and HexTow® IM carbon fiber.
The A350 XWB is the first Airbus with a structure that is more than 50% composites. On display at SAMPE are samples from the fuselage “Omega” and “T” stringers made by ATK Aerospace Structures. In the A350 fuselage section there are 700 different frames and stringers per ship set from ATK which are made entirely with our HexPly® M21E matrix and HexTow® carbon fiber. The prepreg resin was developed by Hexcel chemists to ensure that the very high performance properties in the fiber are fully optimized in the cured prepreg laminates.
HexTOOL® Tooling Material
Hexcel’s patented composite tooling material enables the tolerance accuracy achieved with metals to be combined with the extreme lightness of carbon fiber composites. HexTOOL molds are easy to repair and are simple to modify. This new concept for lightweight, efficient large-scale tools is cost-effective compared with conventional composite tools and metal molds, especially those made from Invar®.
On display at SAMPE will be a monolithic carbon tool constructed of a HexTOOL® M61 face sheet and high temperature carbon header boards. Formed in an egg crate support structure, the tool is attached using a classic wet tie process. The tool’s construction simulates a section of a spar tool. Five plies of HEXTOOL® M61 are laid up against an IML master manufactured from General Plastic’s FR 4718 high temperature foam and cured at 375° F with a 425° F post-cure. The HexTOOL® face sheet is then machined to a nominal 0.4 inch thickness and benched to achieve the final surface profile suitable for aerospace production parts.
Acousti-Cap®, Noise-Reducing Honeycomb for Aircraft Engines
The latest Acousti-Cap® technology with sound absorption enhanced by the zero splice configurations continues to reduce the noise footprint of airplanes. This technology has been proven in Boeing’s 747-8. Hexcel’s HexWeb® lightweight honeycomb and engineered core components are used in the nacelle and thrust reverser - as well as the aircraft secondary structures and interiors.
The GEnx-2B nacelles benefit from Hexcel’s broadband noise reducing Acousti-Cap® technology that enables 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, and number of caps in a cell and insertion depth. The result is a product tuned to their acoustic requirements.
HexTow® Carbon Fiber
30 years ago, Hexcel launched the revolutionary HexTow® IM (Intermediate Modulus) Carbon Fiber for the world’s most advanced commercial and military programs including GEnx Engines, F35, 787 Landing Gear Brace, Eurofighter Typhoon and A350 XWB. Hexcel has since extended its IM Carbon Fiber product range by introducing HexTow® IM10 – a true breakthrough in IM Carbon Fiber development offering the highest commercially available Tensile Strength Carbon Fiber meeting the demands for next generation aerospace programs and applications. SpaceX a company that designs and manufactures the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft has included IM10 in a test program to further advance the boundaries of space technology; proving yet again Hexcel’s commitment in offering leading edge technologies that enable the success of the space industry’s most demanding missions.
For more information on Hexcel’s products featured at SAMPE Long Beach Show 2013, visit hexcel.com/news for the latest Composite Trends Newsletter.