New out-of-autoclave process

Hexcel has developed a new technology for out-of-autoclave (OoA) processing that it says can reduce process time with the same mechanical performance.

The G-Vent technology can be used to process highly loaded, thick section marine structures such as masts, foils, and wind-assisted ship propulsion (WASP) components.

According to the company, its marine prepregs are now available with the technology integrated and can help reduce a need for debulking steps. They can also help ensure extremely low porosity (<1%) irrespective of the laminate thickness.

In tests run by non-destructive testing (NDT) specialist QI Composites, Hexcel’s HexPly 40-layer prepreg samples was 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, the company said. Ultrasonic and CT scan analysis confirmed that the void content had porosity levels in line with similar autoclaved carbon prepreg foils. 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, QI Composites.