Fast curing prepreg features 2-minute press-cure cycle time

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  • High Tg of 125°C allows cured parts to be demolded while hot
  • Fully automated preform manufacturing line in Neumarkt, Austria
  • Carbon fiber/epoxy compound developed for compression molding

Hexcel has developed a new prepreg range for automotive applications. The company’s fast curing prepreg HexPly M77 meets the needs for volume production with a 2-minute press-cure cycle at 150°C (80 bar pressure).

High Tg of 125°C allows cured parts to be demolded while hot

The system is optimized for automated processing, with low tack enabling precise shapes to be cut by laser and allowing individual plies to be oriented, assembled and consolidated into a flat preform by robot. While curing in the mold the optimized gel time of HexPly M77 enables the resin to flow into the contours to achieve the precise geometries required for the finished part. The high Tg of 125°C allows cured parts to be demolded while hot for a quick turnaround and faster production cycles.

Fully automated preform manufacturing line in Neumarkt, Austria

Building on this technology Hexcel has developed and installed a fully automated preform manufacturing line at its facility in Neumarkt, Austria capable of achieving production rates of less than 2 minutes per preform. The preform design is precisely tailored to the customer application and the process allows for full design flexibility regarding ply weights, orientation and contours. It also allows additional materials such as adhesive to be integrated into the process. Camera based automated quality controls are implemented throughout the whole line.

Carbon fiber/epoxy compound developed for compression molding

The advantages of HexPly M77 epoxy resin are also available in the form of HexMC-i, a carbon fiber/epoxy compound developed for compression molding which has a very high fiber volume content assuring very good mechanical performance. HexMC-i is recommended for the series production of complex shapes with thickness variation, sharp angles or parts that require inserts such as screw threads to be integrated into the molding process. It is an alternative to lightweight metals for structural applications, can be hybridized with metal and has superior mechanical properties to vinyl esters.

Hexcel at Composites Europe

At Composites Europe, the company will showcase several automotive parts including CFRP reinforced BIW parts manufactured from HexPly M77 using Hexcel’s fully automated 2D preform production line. There will also be a demonstrator panel manufactured by Plastic Omnium using HexPly M77 demonstrating the 40% weight reduction achievable in trunk floors using this technology.

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