HexPEKK Polymer 3D is the new age product designed for flight-ready aircraft. Hexcel, the advanced composite material making company recently launched electrically conductive polymer-based carbon fibre composite for 3D printing. This new formulated 3D item is designed to meet the static electricity management, electromagnetic shielding, and radiation absorption for advanced aircraft applications.
This high-performance carbon- fibre PEKK material is engineered to use in commercial aerospace and military aircraft. HexPEKK Polymer 3D is chemical resistant and temperative resilient. It carries all essential traits required for aerospace applications.
Lawrence Varholak, VP of Additive Manufacturing at Hexcel, said, “The management of static electricity dissipation, electromagnetic interference, and radiation absorption is critical in the design of all air vehicles. The introduction of this advanced additive manufacturing material will enable the fabrication of extremely complex aerostructures with unparalleled structural and electrical functionality. It significantly reduces weight and cost while providing unlimited design flexibility.”
Hexcel’s’ materials are known for cutting the cost of post-processing steps and deliver “flight ready” components.
The new HexPEKK is designed for the use in Selective Laser Sintering and does not require support pillars. The use of these materials is necessary for aerospace because of the sensitivity of sensors and communication. A slight rise in voltage can lead to radiation leakage, causing errors in reading.
Hexcel’s rise in 3D printing materials portfolio
Hexcel, founded in 1948, is an established company known for producing materials, not just for 3D printing, but also for wider industrial manufacturing. Over the years, the company has shown interest in different sectors, energy generation and transportation.
3D printing companies have been using Hexcel’s HexPekk Thermoplastics. The polymer range is optimized for fabricating aerospace parts, interior aircraft for end-to-end use within the industry.
In the year 2017, Hexcel acquired Oxford Performance Materials (OPM), producer of high-performance thermoplastic and carbon fibre- reinforced 3D printed parts. Post-acquisition, Hexcel reaffirmed its commitment to developing PEKK aviation materials by gaining 3D printed part approval from multinational aeronautical corporation Boeing.
HexPEKK EM aerospace credentials
Hexcel’s PEKK material carries integrated EM properties, which does not require expensive post-processing tasks. The polymer was developed using the firm’s industry-qualified HxAM process.
PEKKs has earned a good reputation in the aerospace industry. 3D printer manufacturer EOS has worked with Boeing to develop carbon-fibre reinforced PEKK material. This polymer was designed to meet challenging UV resistance, flame retardancy and federal aviation regulations.
For HexPEKK EM, the target application products are exterior surfaces, leading edges, air inlets, electronic enclosures, and cockpit structures for commercial airplanes, military aircraft, helicopters, and UAV components.
HexPEKK EM Components will be manufactured mainly at the Hexcel’s Hartford (CT) plant. The plant is known for developing HexAM addictive manufacturing process using powder bed fusion technology to improve the method of manufacturing aircraft components.
Hexcel’s HexPEKK polymers product was awarded accreditation and is allowed to use within the fabrication of brackets, environmental control system ducts and casting.
Meanwhile, a team at Northeastern University have successfully developed 3D printed anti-infection orthopaedic devices. The naturally repellent surface of cicada-wings inspires these devices. These devices were comparable to industry-standard PEKK implants.