Flight Design, a German ultralight aircraft company, selected Hexcel’s HexPly® M79 low-temperature curing prepreg for aircraft production, transforming the manufacturing process.
Flight Design has been manufacturing light sport aircraft since 1996, relying on composite materials and using vacuum consolidated wet laminated carbon fiber structures to keep the aircraft lightweight and strong.
More recently, Flight Design added the Ultralight Super Series and F2 series to its catalog, and in doing so decided to work with a long-term supplier of composite materials, Lange + Ritter GmbH, to explore the use of prepregs to create a consistent material quality and produce an even lighter and stronger aircraft at a competitive cost without the use of autoclaves.
Lange + Ritter, part of Hexcel’s supplier network, suggested Hexcel’s HexPly® M79 prepregs as a solution. HexPly M79 prepregs met and exceeded the requirements as they can be cured at temperatures as low as 70˚C reducing tooling costs and increasing build rates. HexPly M79 UD carbon tapes can be laminated with reduced debulking steps to produce void contents <1% irrespective of laminate thickness, allowing designers to optimize highly loaded composite aerostructures.
HexPly M79 prepreg materials were first used at Flight Design in the F2 prototype as well as in test panels required for material testing by European and U.S. certification bodies.
Flight Design is enjoying the benefits of its switch to HexPly M79, including cleaner and more precise lay-up, quick and energy-efficient curing, and consistently high-quality laminates and components. The team plans to use HexPly M79 to further lightweight the Ultralight Series in the days ahead.
“The materials and technology package from Hexcel and Lange + Ritter has been a big success for us at
Flight Design,” said Daniel Günther, managing director at Flight Design. “When we took the decision to switch to prepreg, we looked at many options but only Hexcel and Lange + Ritter could offer us low-temperature out-of-autoclave (OOA) curing, globally respected material quality, and the customer service levels we were searching for.”