Hexcel launches composite HexPEKK EM electromagnetic shielding and radar absorptive materials

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Hexcel is introducing its latest HexAM materials technology, HexPEKK EM – an electrically conductive, high-performance, PEKK-based thermoplastic carbon fiber composite additive manufacturing material offering industry-leading performance.

The move was to be expected given Hexcel’s leadership role in the composites market. The firm had acquired OPM’s PEKK SLS 3D printing technology to begin offering 3D printing service capabilities under the newly established HexAM brand. However in the beginning, HexAM focused exclusively on the unfilled PEKK powders originally developed by OPM. As EOS and Arkema moved to offer composite PEKK materials (HT-23) for SLS, it was logical to assume that Hexcel would also eventually move into this particularly interesting segment of AM.

The new HexPEKK EM material integrates advanced electromagnetic (EM) performance within complex 3D printed components for the commercial aerospace, defense, and military sectors. HexPEKK EM composite components are flight-ready after printing.

“The management of static electricity dissipation, electromagnetic interference, and radiation absorption is extremely important in the design of all air vehicles,” said Lawrence Varholak, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Hexcel, said. “The introduction of this advanced additive manufacturing material will enable the fabrication of extremely complex aerostructures with unparalleled structural and electrical functionality. It significantly reduces weight and cost while providing unlimited design flexibility.”

Formulated specifically to meet the static electricity management, electromagnetic shielding, and radiation absorption requirements of advanced aircraft applications, the new PEKK carbon-fiber-blended material delivers unique electrical performance that complements Hexcel’s current portfolio of carbon fiber-based and unfilled neat resin HexPEKK 100 material offerings. Manufactured using the aerospace industry qualified HexAM process, HexPEKK EM components exhibit best-in-class environmental, operational temperature, and chemical resistant performance attainable in the aerospace industry.

By integrating this enhanced EM performance into additive manufactured components, HexPEKK® EM parts do not require costly and time-consuming secondary processing steps, such as the application of conductive coating for the management of electromagnetic interference or radiation absorption.

Target applications for HexPEKK EM cover a broad range of products such as exterior surfaces, leading edges, air inlets, electronic enclosures, and cockpit structures for commercial airplanes, military aircraft, helicopters, and UAV components.

HexPEKK EM components will be produced at Hexcel’s Hartford (CT) plant, where the company continues to develop the HexAM® additive manufacturing process using powder bed fusion technology to fundamentally improve the way the world’s aircraft components are manufactured.


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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 and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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