Advanced composites company Hexcel has announced the launch of an electrically conductive PEKK-based thermoplastic carbon fibre composite material for additive manufacturing.
The HexPEKK EM (electromagnetic) material has been designed for use on Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology and to meet the demands of the commercial aerospace, defence and military industries. Harnessing SLS technology and the HexPEKK material through its HexAM process, Hexcel is to produce components for these sectors at its Hartford, Connecticut plant where it will also continue the development of HexAM.
Hexcel has engineered the new material in a bid to enable flight-ready components after printing. The HexPEKK EM material, per the company, has been formulated specifically to meet the static electricity management, electromagnetic shielding and radiation absorption requirements of advanced aircraft applications, complementing its current carbon fibre material offering. Its enhanced EM properties also mean that printed parts do not require coating for the management of electromagnetic interference or radiation absorption, helping to save both time and cost.
With these capabilities, Hexcel believes the HexPEKK EM material is suitable for a range of application, including exterior surfaces, air inlets, electronic enclosures and cockpit structures in commercial and military aircraft, as well as helicopters and UAVs.
“The management of static electricity dissipation, electromagnetic interference, and radiation absorption is extremely important in the design of all air vehicles,” commented Lawrence Varholak, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at Hexcel. “The introduction of this advanced additive manufacturing material will enable the fabrication of extremely complex aero structures with unparalleled structural and electrical functionality. It significantly reduces weight and cost while providing unlimited design flexibility.”