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Composites

Class A surfaces for Alfa Romeo

Epoxy prepreg surface material developed with processing input from the HP Composites team in Italy.

29th September 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Stamford, CT, USA

Transport/​Aerospace

Hexcel has collaborated with HP Composites to develop carbon fibre Class A body panels. Hexcel HexPly XF surfacing technology is being extensively used by the Italian component producer to manufacture external body panels and other components for supercars such as Alfa Romeo’s new supersport sedans, the Giulia GTA, and GTAm.

With five production plants in Italy, HP Composites has built an impressive track record of high-performance composite succes stories on both road and racetrack. HP has combined this processing expertise with Hexcel HexPly XF3 surfacing material, HexPly M47, and HexPly M49 prepregs, working to the highest standards set by the most prestigious supercar OEMs and leading motorsport teams.

Hexcel’s automotive composites portfolio is the result of decades of industry experience and the creation of strategic partnerships to develop and optimise leading-edge technologies. HexPly XF3 is an epoxy prepreg surface material, developed with processing input from the HP Composites team to address the challenges of producing high-quality Class A automotive body panel surfaces with excellent resistance to aging tests.

Applied as the first ply in the mould and after curing at 120-180˚C in an autoclave, HexPly XF3 produces a smooth part surface with no porosity, that requires minimal preparation for painting.

It is supplied in an easy-to-handle roll format with good tack and drape. After curing, it can be easily prepared for painting with a rapid sanding process. HP Composites has incorporated automated robotic sanding techniques for this finishing stage with the paint-ready HexPly XF3 surface providing excellent paint adhesion according to EN ISO 2409.

HP Composites typically uses autoclave processing for HexPly XF3 parts, maximising weight savings and the structural performance of the final components. In addition, HP has also developed its own proprietary press and compression moulding processes, including Air Press Moulding technology for higher volume production series that require increased production rates.

“Our long-term experience has given us a detailed understanding of the critical features that influence how prepregs and surfacing technologies interact with different production processes,” said Abramo Levato, general manager at HP Composites. “The relationship we have with Hexcel is both highly technical and supportive. As a result we have a complete material package for high-quality Class A body panels that are formulated specifically with our requirements in mind.”

www.hexcel.com

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