Laser Processing of Hexcel® HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric


Hexcel® HexForce 282 is part of a complete line of woven and non-woven reinforcements manufactured by Hexcel for use in structural composites used in aerospace, military, transportation and industrial applications. Hexcel HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric is a 175µm thick, carbon fiber woven reinforcement that offers high strength, is thermally and electrically conductive, and offers excellent fatigue resistance. A diagram depicting HexForce 282 is shown in Figure 1.
Hexcel HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric Layers

Figure 1. HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric illustrating the fiber weave (175µm).

With the properties of high strength, low weight, chemical resistance, and very low expansion upon heating, HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric is suitable for laser cutting. The non-contact nature of laser processing allows applications to be processed with small features and fine geometry which might be difficult to achieve with traditional mechanical methods. Processes other than laser cutting are not indicated, as they are not conducive to the intended use of HexForce 282. Universal Laser Systems® (ULS) makes it possible to consistently and repeatedly process this material to a high degree of dimensional accuracy, with virtually no material deformation during processing.

Laser Processing Notes

HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric was tested to assess laser processing compatibility and determine the best configuration of laser peak power and wavelength. There was found to be no substantial difference between 9.3µm and 10.6µm laser energy when used to process Hex Force 282 Carbon Fabric. A microscopy image taken at 300x magnification of the edge of HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric after laser cutting is shown in Figure 2.
Hexcel HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric Figure 2

Figure 2. Microscopy image (300x) of the edge of HexForce 282 after laser cutting.
The heat-affected zone measures 15µm.

Processing Example

HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric applications requiring fine geometry and intricate detail with no degradation of the material’s physical properties can be achieved with ULS technology. An example demonstrating the results of laser cutting HexForce 282 using the recommended system configuration is shown in Figure 3.
Hexcel HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric Figure 3

Figure 3. Example of the geometry possible when laser cutting HexForce 282.


HexForce 282 Carbon Fabric is suitable for laser processing and was extensively tested to determine the optimal processing configuration. Through this testing it was determined that laser cutting is viable with this material and that a single 75 watt 9.3µm wavelength CO2 laser source is the best system configuration. HexForce 282 efficiently absorbs the 9.3µm wavelength laser energy to produce a processed edge that has a minimal heat-affected zone and nominal discoloration.