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5th February 2020, Stamford, CN

Hybrid carbon and wood fibre car seat back

Hybrid carbon and wood fibre car seat back. © Hexcel.Hybrid carbon and wood fibre car seat back. © Hexcel.

Hexcel Corporation is collaborating with NaCa Systems, a Tier 1 supplier of natural fibre composite automotive interior parts, on the development of a lightweight carbon fibre prepreg and wood fibre composite sportscar seat back using a rapid press moulding process.

The innovation validates a short cycle time production process for CFRP and wood fibre composite parts and aims to offer a host of benefits to automotive manufacturers.

Hexcel supplies NaCa Systems with an optimized version of its HexPly M77CS epoxy prepreg material, 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 fibre composite bond strength despite the slightly higher resin uptake seen with the natural material component. The carbon fibre 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 moulded plastic component whilst also featuring a significantly improved CO2 footprint vrsus a full carbon part. Unlike plastic moulded parts, the prepreg and wood fibre structure doesn’t produce sharp edged pieces when damaged, significantly increasing passenger safety in a crash scenario. In addition, wood fibre 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 fibre 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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