Interview with Oliver Wessely, Director of Sales & Marketing for Non-Crimp Material at Hexcel
Hexcel Reinforcements UK, previously Formax, is a leader in the supply of composite supports, specialising in the production of ultra-lightweight carbon fiber multiaxials and extremely engineered glass fibers for the vehicle, wind, marine, sports and commercial markets.Inside Composites
talks to Oliver Wessely, Director of Sales & Marketing for Non-Crimp Fabric at Hexcel.Inside Composites: Please can you inform us a little about the background of the company, prior to becoming Hexcel Reinforcements UK in January this year?Oliver Wessely: The journey fromFormax to Hexcel Reinforcements UK has actually been an amazing one. In 1998 we emerged from within an existing textile service based in Leicester, the textiles capital of the UK. The directors of this business identified a gap in the market for high performance technical textile reinforcements and established Formax, with the objective of supplying performance boosting multiaxial reinforcements to the marine and commercial markets. In 2001, UK fabrics business James Dewhurst purchased 50% of Formax’s equity and the company continued to grow regularly, earning a reputation for its friendly values and its ability to provide and craft optimised reinforcements that satisfied consumers ‘particular needs. In 2005, the company provided its very first delivery of wind energy material to the Austrian site of composites huge Hexcel. In 2010, Formax was granted the agreement to provide carbon reinforcements for the crash tub of McLaren’s P11, and as a result, 2014 saw the opening of its devoted EUR 2.5 million Automotive Centre. Geared up with a Carbon Malitronic multiaxial machine, this center is dedicated to providing optimised carbon multiaxials to a variety of high volume automobile programs. In December 2014, Formax formed a 50%joint venture with Hexcel, and in January this year Hexcel got the staying interest in the business to form Hexcel Reinforcements UK Ltd.IC: What are the crucial advantages of unidirectional and multiaxial materials in composites?OW: Whilst composite parts can be produced using any variety of plies of unidirectional support (in fibre, material or prepreg type)positioned in any fibre orientation, cost and time requirements lead
manufacturers to try to find other services. Multiaxial supports are made up of multiple plies of parallel fibers, each lying in a different orientation or axis. These layers are generally put down and after that stitchbonded on large single or multiple width machines to develop a fabric. Multiaxial supports allow manufacturers to process numerous layers of unidirectional fibres in a single material thus using a number of advantages over conventional forms of reinforcements: the enhancing fibres can be placed in different axes to optimise the efficiency of the completed laminate; no resin-rich areas indicate that it is much easier to accomplish a higher fibre content at lower weight for better performance; non-crimped
fibers suggest greater tensile and flexural properties in the finished laminate; minimized print-through, especially important on boat hulls and automobile applications; fabrics are easier to cut and manage as the stitching holds the product together during processing;
heavier fabric combinations are possible, implying higher deposition rates; the straight non-crimped fibres within a multiaxial fabric allow excellent resin penetration and circulation which is perfect for infusion and light RTM, whilst the stitching help resin migration through the layers(Z-direction ), perfect for increasing infusion rates.IC: What have been the key benefits of becoming part of Hexcel to date?OW: Our technologies and items complement the other items in Hexcel’s portfolio. Hexcel has decades of experience in carbon fiber manufacture, resin formula and fibre strengthened composites and we are able to use these synergies to supply innovative services and an improved service to our clients.
Hexcel’s CFRP services are used in standalone and hybrid applications to help not only lighten cars and trucks and add to overall CO2 decreases, however also help to enhance performance and safety through increased strength and durability.IC: Amongst other success stories in the aerospace sector, Hexcel is accountable for providing prepregs for the main structures of the current Jet A350 XWB aircrafts. Exactly what is the function of Hexcel Reinforcements UK in such programmes?OW: Hexcel provides unidirectional carbon fibre prepreg for the primary composite structures of the A350 XWB and a number of other items for the program including woven fabrics, however no multiaxials to date. The aerospace market is revealing increasing interest in non-crimp materials and Hexcel revealed earlier this year that the Formax acquisition will permit the business to more advance dry reinforcements innovation for future aerospace applications.IC: In September last year, you opened a devoted Development Centre at your Leicester headquarters and in April Hexcel also opened a brand-new ₤ 6 million Research study and Innovation plant in Duxford, UK. Exactly what are the key issues presently driving research and development?OW: The Development Centre in Leicester leads research study into optimising multiaxial reinforcements for technically challenging applications. Key locations of knowledge include screening and characterisation of fabric architecture, developing new items based upon novel fabric architecture, and recycling. Over recent years
we have actually seen a boost in need for simulation support, led by automotive clients and their have to simulate procedure and performance during the early phases of product design. Working closely with the University of Nottingham we have actually commissioned a bespoke permeability measurement rig which offers estimates for permeability at a provided volume fraction. These worths can be utilized with analytical hand-calculation techniques or circulation simulation software to provide predictions of fill time and dry spots.
The Duxford site is Hexcel’s largest centre for research into resin systems and adhesives. Duxford is also Hexcel’s centre of excellence for process innovation consisting of product scale-up and research study into brand-new procedures for making composite products, including quality control methods.IC: What do you think about to be the most significant advancements impacting the composites sector given that 2000? OW: The need to decrease weight, to make everything from airplane to cars more fuel effective and to lower the carbon footprint, has been a huge driver in the development of the composites industry, integrated with the need for greater safety and toughness. The design freedom that composites enable, with materials being tailor-made to match the particular efficiency requirements of an application. The adaptability of composites enables the ideal material to be put in the best location for optimum efficiency.