STAMFORD, Conn., February 7, 2020 – Hexcel Corporation (NYSE: HXL) is collaborating with NaCa Systems, a Tier 1 supplier of natural fiber composite automotive interior parts, on the development of a lightweight carbon fiber prepreg and wood fiber composite sports car seat back using a rapid press molding process. This innovation validates a short-cycle time production process for CFRP and wood fiber composite parts and offers a host of benefits to automotive manufacturers.
Hexcel supplies NaCa Systems with an optimized version of its HexPly® M77CS epoxy prepreg material. HexPly® M77CS is a fast curing hot melt, thermosetting epoxy matrix, specifically designed for prepreg applications for which short-cure cycles and clear surfaces with perfect aesthetics are required.
Hexcel’s newly developed version of the M77CS prepreg has an increased resin content to optimize the CFRP to wood fiber composite bond strength despite the slightly higher resin uptake seen with the natural material component. The carbon fiber prepreg is cured at around 145˚C for four to five minutes and can be fully integrated into NaCa Systems existing production lines and metallic tooling.
The lightweight seat back demonstrates a 40% weight savings when compared to a typical injection molded plastic component, while also featuring a significantly improved CO2 footprint versus a full carbon fiber part. Unlike plastic molded parts, the prepreg and wood fiber structure does not produce sharp edged pieces when damaged, significantly increasing passenger safety in a crash scenario. In addition, wood fiber composites also increase sound absorption, contributing to improved noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) damping within the vehicle interior.
“Hexcel has been a fantastic technology partner for our latest natural fiber and carbon composite hybrid parts,” said Aleš Kopa, CEO at NaCa Systems. “For us, it is important to work with a prepreg supplier who can tailor the materials to work with our processes and who can deliver consistent quality as we grow rapidly in response to the continued drive from OEMs for more sustainable composite solutions.”
The NaCa Systems seat back will be on display on the Hexcel stand at JEC World 2020.
Hexcel Corporation is a leading advanced composites company. It develops, manufactures and markets lightweight, high-performance structural materials including carbon fibers, specialty reinforcements, prepregs and other fiber-reinforced matrix materials, honeycomb, adhesives, engineered core and composite structures for use in commercial aerospace, space and defense and industrial applications.
Director, Marketing Communications