By the second half of next year, Hexcel Corporation expects to open a new factory in the US to exclusively serve its growing glass fibre sales to the wind power industry. The multi-national corporation, based in Connecticut, will open a plant for pre-impregnation of glass fibre with resins for rotor blades in Windsor, Colorado. Hexcel's largest customers in the wind business are Vestas, which has a blade factory in Windsor, and and Gamesa, which produces blades in Pennsylvania. The contracts with the two turbine firms are not exclusive. Hexcel's Colorado expansion comes on the heels of the opening of a new facility in China near blade facilities in Tianjin operated by Vestas and Gamesa, says Hexcel's Michael Bacal. The company also maintains a facility in Austria to serve the European wind power market. Hexcel's $1.2 billion glass fibre business is split roughly between 75% for the aerospace industries and 25% for industrial applications, with wind power making up 12-13% of that. Wind sales are growing at 15-20% a year for the publicly traded company. About 40% of the wind power industry uses pre-impregnated glass fibre sheets for blade lay-up and the other 60% pumps a mixture of fibreglass and resin into a vacuum-sealed mould. LM Glasfiber and Brazilian company Tecsis, which produces blades for GE Energy, are two firms that use infusion.
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