Hexcel to expand carbon fibre in France; capacity for Airbus’s AX350

Composites firm Hexcel Corporation will expand its carbon fibre production capacity through the addition of new precursor and carbon fibre lines in Roussillon, France. The US$250 million investment will also include the associated Quality Control laboratories and offices.

The new facility is part of Hexcel’s ongoing worldwide investment to create a diversified and robust global supply chain to support aerospace customers’ growing demand for carbon fibre composites. In recent years Hexcel has increased its precursor and carbon fibre capacities through targeted expansions at existing facilities. Most notably, Hexcel is investing in ongoing precursor and carbon fibre expansions at its US facilities and is currently installing its resin mixing and filming technology – first developed in Europe – in the US. The new facility in France is the next step in support of European customers, enhancing the supply chain by adding precursor and additional carbon fiber capacity in Europe.

The new French plant will occupy a 37 acre site at the Osiris Chemicals Industry Platform in Roussillon, which is close to Hexcel’s weaving and prepreg manufacturing facilities near Lyon. Carbon fibre from the new plant will be supplied to Hexcel customers including Airbus for the A350 XWB and Safran for the CFM LEAP engine. Construction of the new plant will begin by mid-2015 and it is expected to employ 120 people when fully operational in early 2018.

Hexcel’s Chairman/CEO/President, Nick Stanage, commented today: “I am delighted to announce Hexcel’s investment in our first precursor plant in Europe and our first carbon fibre capacity in France. The state of the art manufacturing facilities that we will build demonstrate our commitment to technology expansion around the world to provide an efficient global supply chain in support of customer programs. The new plant will further strengthen our customer relationships, provide greater opportunities for aerospace industry growth and reinforce Hexcel’s position as a global leader in carbon fibre composites.”

Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President/CEO welcomed the announcement, commenting: “We applaud Hexcel’s decision to build a precursor and carbon fibre plant in France, demonstrating a strong, ongoing commitment to meet the growing demand for carbon fibre composites in the aerospace industry. This decision supports Airbus requirements for A350 XWB composite primary structures and underlines the strong partnership between Airbus and Hexcel.”

Hexcel develops, manufactures and markets lightweight, high-performance structural materials, including carbon fibres, reinforcements, prepregs, honeycomb, matrix systems, adhesives and composite structures, used in commercial aerospace, space and defence and industrial applications such as wind turbine blades.

Airbus’s new aircraft to be launched at year-end

Airbus has received Type Certification for the A350°XWB, which means the aircraft is now ready for flight operations. The aircraft is expected to be delivered to its launch customer during the fourth quarter of 2014. The A350°XWB is the first Airbus aircraft with a structure that is over 50% advanced composite materials, making a huge contribution to the weight-saving, performance and fuel efficiency of the aircraft.

Hexcel’s HexPly M21E/IMA carbon fibre/epoxy prepreg is used to manufacture all composite primary structures of the aircraft, including the fuselage panels, keel beam, wing and the empennage.

The A350 XWB lower wing cover is the biggest single civil aviation part ever made from carbon fibre, measuring 32 m long. In addition to the primary structures, Hexcel is supplying a number of HexPly prepregs for other structures on the A350 XWB, including the epoxy systems HexPly M21 and HexPly 8552 - and the BMI system HexPly M65.

The HexPly 8552 woven and UD prepregs, HexPly M65 woven BMI prepreg and HexPly 914/ASC woven prepreg are used in the engines and nacelles along with Hexcel’s engineered core.

The belly fairing is made from Hexcel’s HexPly M26T and F593 woven carbon prepregs and HexWeb Engineered Core is also used extensively in several sandwich component packages. Other Hexcel products on the A350 XWB include HexFlow RTM 6 infusion resin and HexForce engineered reinforcements for out of autoclave structures, Redux adhesives and lightning strike protection solutions.

Hexcel’s total content on each A350 XWB is US$5 million and includes carbon fibre from the US and Spain, resin film from the UK, prepreg from France, Spain, Germany and the US, and honeycomb and engineered core from the US, UK and Belgium.


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