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Hexcel and NaCa Systems develop hybrid carbon and wood fiber composite car seat back

Hexcel Corporation (NYSE: HXL). Hexcel is collaborating with NaCa Systems, a Tier 1 supplier of natural fiber composite automotive interior parts, on the development of a lightweight carbon fiber prepreg and wood fiber composite sportscar seat back using a rapid press molding process. This innovation validates a short cycle time production process for CFRP and wood fiber composite parts and offers a host of benefits to automotive manufacturers.

Hexcel supplies NaCa Systems with an optimized version of its HexPly® M77CS epoxy prepreg material. HexPly® M77CS is a fast curing hotmelt, thermosetting epoxy matrix, specifically designed for prepreg applications for which short cure cycles and clear surfaces with perfect aesthetics are required.

Hexcel’s newly developed version of the M77CS prepreg has an increased resin content to optimize the CFRP to wood fiber composite bond strength despite the slightly higher resin uptake seen with the natural material component. The carbon fiber prepreg is cured at around 145˚C for four to five minutes and can be fully integrated into NaCa Systems existing production lines and metallic tooling.

The lightweight seat back demonstrates a 40% weight saving compared to a typical injection molded plastic component whilst also featuring a significantly improved CO2 footprint vs a full carbon part. Unlike plastic molded parts, the prepreg and wood fiber structure doesn’t produce sharp edged pieces when damaged, significantly increasing passenger safety in a crash scenario. In addition, wood fiber composites also increase sound absorption, contributing to improved NVH damping within the vehicle interior.

“Hexcel has been a fantastic technology partner for our latest natural fiber and carbon composite hybrid parts. For us it is important to work with a prepreg supplier who can tailor the materials to work with our processes and that can deliver consistent quality as we grow rapidly in response to OEM’s continued drive for more sustainable composite solutions”, commented Aleš Kopal - CEO, NaCa Systems.

The NaCa Systems seat back will be on display on the Hexcel stand at JEC World 2020.

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