Hexcel HexPly XF Streamlines Wind Blade Shell Manufacturing

Hexcel’s HexPly XF surface technology eliminates liquid chemicals and reduces the frequency of surface defects in the wind blade shell manufacturing process.
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An image of a wind turbine blade in production
Photo Credit: Hexcel

Hexcel (Stamford, Conn.) says its HexPly XF surface technology reduces shell manufacturing time within the wind blade surface finishing process, reducing time in the mold by up to two hours and improving surface quality.

Wind turbine manufacturers are under increasing pressure to reduce costs, increase quality and optimize productivity. Hexcel says its HexPly XF surface technology addresses the limitations of current blade shell surfacing techniques that require hand-repairing surface defects to achieve the smooth surface required for painting.

HexPly XF surface technology tackles surface quality requirements by introducing a new material format as the surface finishing layer, bypassing the traditional in-mold gel coating process. Hexply XF is a lightweight non-woven semi-preg construction, comprising an epoxy resin matrix that co-cures with standard epoxy infusion systems.

Hexcel supplies the coating in a ready-to-use roll form, applicable by hand or semi-automated layup equipment. It features one self-adhesive, surface-finishing side — indicated by a removable protective foil. Users place this side of the prepreg against a release-agent-treated mold surface. After positioning the material, users can start lay-up of the blade shell structure and start laminate infusion. After curing, the blade is de-molded, with the manufacturer benefiting from a pinhole-free surface that needs minimal preparation before painting.

HexPly XF is less than half the weight of a typical gel coat per square meter, reducing the overall weight of the blade. Additionally, the consistent areal weight and thickness of the prepreg film provide a uniform surface coating, ensuring the proper blade weight distribution and balance that prove critical as rotor diameters increase. The material’s lack of liquid chemicals also improves health and safety working conditions on the shop floor, and its six-week shelf life at ambient temperature minimizes cold-storage requirements and reduces scrap.

Hexcel | 203-969-0666 | hexcel.com


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