22 September 2012

Hexcel ready for ramp-up; opens a prepeg plant extension in Spain focused on A350 XWB

The extension of Hexcel prepreg plant in Parla (Spain), doubles capacity at the 23 years´ facility in order to support the ramp up for the Airbus A350 XWB and legacy programmes.

At Parla, Hexcel manufactures HexPly® prepreg tape using Hexcel’s HexTow® carbon fibre, that is manufactured at Hexcel´s Illescas plant that is only some kilometers far away. Both plants are in the same area than Airbus Composite Centre of Excelence (wing lower covers and section 19 of the fuselage manufacturing) and other Spanish risk sharing partners in the A350 XWB as Aernnova (Horizontal tail plane), Aciturri (Vertical Tail Plane) and Alestis (belly fairing and section 19.1)
Prepeg tapes:
Prepregs are fibre-reinforcements that have been pre-impregnated with a resin formulation and are cured using heat and pressure. The resulting laminates are exceptionally stronger than steel, lighter than aluminium, and as stiff as titanium.

Carbon fiber, the raw material.
HexTow® carbon fiber from Hexcel are produced in a continuous operation in which polyacrylonitrile (PAN) precursor -made by Hexcel in Decatur, Alabama- undergoes a series of precisely controlled processes. Exposure to extremely high temperature changes the precursor, yielding high strength-to-weight and high stiffness-to-weight properties through oxidation and carbonization. The successive surface treatment and sizing steps improve bonding and handle ability of the fiber.
Illescas is the location for Hexcel’s first carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Europe. The plant was opened in 2008 and has a total surface area of approximately 45 000 m².
Over 50% of the Airbus A350 XWB structure is made from composites and HexPly® M21E/IMA from Hexcel is the carbon fibre prepreg of choice for all the A350 XWB primary structures, including the wing and tail cone sections that are manufactured by the nearby Airbus Spain plant and Airbus partners in Europe.

Hexcel in A350 XWB video

Commenting at the Ceremony Hexcel President & COO Nick Stanage said: “This expansion at Hexcel Parla is a continuation of our strategy of supporting our key customers by adding capacity so that we may provide timely state-of-the-art prepreg materials right to their points of use. We are very pleased to support the growth of our longtime partner Airbus and we wish to thank our customers, the local community and all those who have supported us in expanding our world class prepreg facility here in Spain.

More info at www.hexcel.com

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