Hexcel Corporation has developed a new technology for out-of-autoclave (OoA) processing that delivers a game-changing reduction in process time and cost for marine manufacturers without compromising mechanical performance
Hexcel has leveraged its experience in aerospace and wind energy to develop its new G-Vent technology for OoA processing of highly loaded, thick section marine structures such as masts, foils, and wind-assisted ship propulsion (WASP) components. Hexcel’s full range of marine prepregs are now available with integrated G-Vent technology, reducing the requirement for debulking steps and ensuring extremely low porosity (<1%) irrespective of the laminate thickness.
To evaluate the new technology, Hexcel completed a test program with Q.I. Composites, a world leader in non-destructive testing in performance marine applications. The program evaluated HexPlyÒ 40-layer prepreg samples prepared with G-Vent technology. Carbon fiber panels made with no debulking revealed approximately three times less porosity than those using a typical 10-minute debulk with every second ply. Ultrasonic and CT scan analysis by Q.I. Composites confirmed the void content results with porosity levels in line with state-of-the-art autoclaved carbon prepreg foils. Key tensile, compressive and interlaminar shear strength results were also higher for the G-Vent panels.
“We evaluated the quality of thick laminates produced with G-Vent and found that they are comparable to laminates made in an autoclave as per best practice in the market,” said Stefano Beltrando, CEO, Q.I. Composites. “Even more impressive, they were achieved with no debulking.”
Tom James, Business Development Manager at Hexcel, said, “We are absolutely delighted with the feedback from Q.I. that confirms our own test data and positions G-Vent technology as a leading OoA process enabler for high-performance thick laminate structures. G-Vent provides a faster and more cost-effective manufacturing route for large marine structures with absolutely no compromise in mechanical performance.”