3D Printing ProcessesAerospace AM

Hexcel HexAM process approved by Boeing for commercial aircraft parts

Leveraging HexPEKK materials, originally developed by OPM

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Hexcel Corporation has been approved by Boeing to produce HexPEKK-100 aerospace structures for major commercial aircraft platforms, leveraging its proprietary HexAM additive manufacturing process.

After a rigorous review of Hexcel’s proprietary poly-ether-ketone-ketone and carbon fiber material formulation, Hexcel’s superior HexPEKK-100 end-use components – as well as its highly-controlled HexAM additive manufacturing process (which uses selective laser sintering) – are now obtainable through Boeing’s Qualified Provider List (QPL). These HexPEKK™ components will be manufactured-to-print for commercial aerospace applications where complexity, weight reduction, and strong mechanical performance are critical.

Hexcel provides high-rate serial part production with reduced lead-time and at a lower cost than traditional intricately machined aluminum or composite structures. HexPEKK-100 parts meet interior aircraft smoke and toxicity requirements and are ideal for complex components such as optimized brackets, environmental control system ducts, and castings.


3D Printed Parts for Aerospace, Space and Defense

HexAM additive manufacturing is a sophisticated merging of PEKK high-performance thermoplastic and thermoplastic powder bed fusion additive manufacturing technology, delivering a range of fully functional, end-use parts and components.

The technology – which Hexcel acquired from Oxford Performance Materials – has been developed to fundamentally improve the way the world’s aircraft components are manufactured, fulfilling critical development and production contracts for 3D printed parts in a range of aircraft applications, combining high performance with significant weight and cost savings to our customers. Ideally suited for end-market applications, where functional complexity and weight reduction can have a substantial and positive impact on performance, HexAM also yields cost and energy savings.


HexAM material and process

The principal material of construction is a Hexcel proprietary poly-ether-ketone-ketone formulation, PEKK. This high-performance polymeric material has a range of benefits that include robust mechanical performance, extreme temperature tolerance, high purity, gamma stability, and extremely high chemical resistance.

The HexAM additive manufacturing process uses selective laser sintering on adapted EOS machines. Hence  HexAM additive manufacturing is basically a merger of high-performance thermoplastics and advanced additive manufacturing technology. This results in industrial structures that meet or significantly exceed the performance expectations in multiple sectors to include aviation, defense and space.


HexPEKK structures have nearly limitless application. Aerospace components can include both low series labor- and capital-intensive production parts and high series labor-intensive production parts. HexPEKK parts meet interior aircraft smoke and toxicity and can be used to replace intricately-machined aluminum or composites.

In order for structural modeling to be properly implemented, Hexcel has undertaken comprehensive mechanical testing and evaluation of our products. The Hexcel material database has been compiled as a result of years of development of the process and can be used to accelerate technology insertion in current workflows. The test matrix, and the resulting B-basis, was constructed in order to support demanding aviation standards for secondary flight structures.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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