Hexcel to Highlight Aerospace and Industrial Composites Expertise at JEC Americas

At this year’s JEC Americas show Hexcel will bring to the forefront its composite innovations for both industrial applications and the aerospace industry.

Of note,  visitors to the Hexcel booth will see some of the latest developments for the Industrial market – from advanced PrimeTex® reinforcements to HexPly® M79 resin systems for wind energy and automotive applications.


HexPly® Carbon Industrial Prepregs

At the Hexcel booth, there will be a substantial showing of our new HexPly® carbon industrial prepreg product line. These carbon reinforcement prepregs are available with a 250oF cure resin system that is flexible for a variety of processes and manufacturing variables. On display will be two automotive parts, brake ducts and a wheel cover made by Indy Performance Composites that highlight the combination of our 200 gsm and 670 gsm twill prepregs.

HexPly® M79 Low Temperature Cure Prepreg for Large Industrial Composite Structures

NEW HexPly® M79 prepreg from Hexcel has been developed to be a game-changer in the wind blade industry – now offering a real option for those who currently manufacture large, thick wall composite structures by infusion to move to prepreg technology and benefit from superior mechanical performance.

HexPly® M79 has been developed to respond to the industry requirements for a lower temperature curing prepreg that cures more quickly than 250°F cure-systems currently on the market.  A number of cure cycle options are possible with HexPly® M79 including a very low temperature cure cycle of 8-10 hours at just 158°F or a more rapid cure cycle of just 4-6 hours at 176°F.  This is a significant time-saving on established industry prepregs where a typical cure cycle for a 176°F curing resin matrix is 10 hours.

With HexPly® M79 there is also a 60% reduction in the risk of an exothermic reaction than with standard wind energy prepregs - yet the new system is based on standard epoxy chemistry that has more than 20 years of proven performance for wind blades.  HexPly® M79 also has a very long out life at room temperature of at least two months, which is unusual for such a low temperature curing product.

Due to the low cure temperature of HexPly® M79 the system is compatible with any liquid epoxy resin used for infusion processing.  This means that prepreg and infusion processes can be combined in the same blade, combining the twin advantages of stronger laminates and cost-effective processing.

The ultimate performance for wind blades is achieved when HexPly® M79 is reinforced with carbon fiber to provide exceptionally strong laminates that are lighter than those made with glass fiber.  This is an enabling technology for the increasingly larger wind blades that are being manufactured – now approaching 100m in length.

PrimeTex® Light Weight Gap-Free Fabrics

As a further development of its highly successful PrimeTex® proprietary spreading process technology, our booth will showcase the lightest 3K gap–free carbon fabric ever produced:  PrimeTex® Very Light Weight 98 g/m².  This new range of 3K carbon fabrics breaks through the conventional limits for Fiber Areal Weight and opens the door to the cost-effective use of very light plies in composite lay-ups.  PrimeTex® Very Light Weight is also 12% thinner than conventional 1K carbon fabrics, which results in lighter structures making it the perfect candidate for surface plies, sandwich construction, structural parts or any other composite components requiring extreme lightness.

PrimeTex® is Hexcel’s patented carbon fiber weaving technology in which the fibers are spread in both the warp and weft directions to produce a uniform weave and gap-free finish. The PrimeTex® spreading process increases the closure factor in the fabric by 5-8% compared to conventional weaving processes (depending on the carbon tow and FAW).

Laminates made with PrimeTex® have reduced porosity, leading to better mechanical performance and when used in sandwich structures the thin PrimeTex® skins have particularly high resistance to water ingress.

On Hexcel’s booth at JEC Americas will be a ski made by Fischer using PrimeTex® to benefit from the twin attributes of high performance and a highly attractive finish.

PrimeTex® is also used to great effect in the contoured roof of the new BMW M6 Gran Coupe - combining elegant design with luxurious appearance.  BMW notes on their website that the contoured roof effectively lowers the weight and centre of gravity of the M6 Gran Coupe for even better driving characteristics.


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.

In the booth, a primary structure demonstrator provides an example of HiTape’s new dry carbon reinforcement and the HexFlow® RTM6 resin system. The self-stiffened panel has 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. Video footage from Coriolis and M Torres will demonstrate the speed and efficiency of the HiTape® preform lay-up process.

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 JEC 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.

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.

Hexcel also offers a wide range of commercially available fibers to support the increasingly demanding world of the industrial marketplace including the automotive, sporting goods, and performance marine segments. As the largest producer of intermediate modulus fibers, worldwide, Hexcel has successfully developed HexTow© IM2 carbon fiber; uniquely combining superior mechanical performance with competitive pricing. Hexcel’s fiber portfolio of both high strength and intermediate modulus offerings can help provide solutions to the most ambitious applications in the industrial segment.

Hexcel is proud to partner with Innegra Technologies in accepting the JEC Americas Innovation Award for Fibers.  The award will be presented on October 3rd at the JEC Americas show in Boston in recognition of the highly successful combination of Hexcel’s HexTow® carbon fiber with Innegra fiber to maximize the high strength and toughness in composite laminates. Innegra S Fiber is an ultra-lightweight (0.84g/cc) high modulus polypropylene fiber technology that provides a significant weight reduction in composites while increasing the ability to absorb energy for impact resistance when combined with other fibers.

Innegra Technologies primarily uses Hexcel’s high strength HexTow® carbon fiber as a co-mingled product with Innegra fiber.  Hexcel and Innegra worked in partnership to optimize the fiber mix, for which typical applications are safety helmets, automotive structures, and sporting goods.


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