Leading advanced composites company, Hexcel, has become a part of the recently launched UK-based project called Aerospace and Automotive Supply Chain Enabled Development (ASCEND) that will focus on developing high-rate manufacturing and processing technologies that will accelerate the development of new, lightweight advanced composite materials.

Hexcel will join lead partner GKN Aerospace and 13 other project stakeholders in a collaboration across the UK supply chain to develop the technologies and automation equipment required to manufacture lightweight, more fuel-efficient structures for sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive industries. Hexcel will contribute to the ASCEND project framework, developing a new HexPly fast cure prepreg system that will significantly reduce component processing times compared to existing aerospace prepregs, according to a press release by the company.

In addition to its new fast curing prepreg technology, Hexcel’s range of Liquid Composite Moulding (LCM) products will be incorporated into the ASCEND project work packages. The project will use both HiTape advanced unidirectional dry carbon reinforcements and HiMax multi-axial non-crimp fabrics reinforcements, Hexcel said.

The ASCEND project will allow Hexcel to collaborate with Tier 1 companies, engineers, tooling specialists, and production equipment OEMs to deliver both prepreg and Liquid Composite Moulding solutions that meet both the performance targets and satisfy the processing requirements for high-rate automated manufacture. The technical integration enabled by the ASCEND project partnerships will ensure a complete understanding of customer performance and processing needs, coupled with the opportunity to industrialise new technologies utilising the extensive capabilities of GKN’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol, according to Hexcel.

“We are proud to be part of the ASCEND programme, and we look forward to working with other leading companies as we develop processes and materials that help to make the next generation of sustainable air mobility, aerospace, and automotive vehicles possible. This project offers the perfect platform for Hexcel to collaborate and further develop our HexPly, HiMax, and HiTape technologies,” Paul Mackenzie, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Hexcel, said in a press release.

The ASCEND partners working alongside Hexcel include Assyst Bulmer, Airborne, Cobham Mission Systems Wimborne, Cygnet Texkimp, DES Composites, FAR-UK Ltd, Hive Composites, LMAT, Loop Technology, McLaren Automotive, The National Composites Centre, Solvay Composite Technologies, Rafinex, and Sigmatex (UK). Together, the group looks forward to delivering the material and automation innovations that will power more sustainable mobility solutions of the future.


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