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3Dfy targets 3D printing of continuous fiber reinforced polymers

After an initial phase (2019-2021) it is being continued at the Institute of Fundamental Technological Research, Poland

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The 3Dfy Project proposes an innovative method to tackle the given problem based on UD thermoplastic prepreg tape as feedstock for the composite 3D printing process. The competitive advantage of the proposed method resides at the level of lower costs and higher quality-performance of the feedstock material, as well as material large variety and open source for the final user.

The issue of continuous fiber-reinforced polymer 3D Printing remains a technological challenge. A highly competitive landscape exists including players from all segments of the development chain, from universities to research centers (e.g., DLR, NLR, ESA, JAXA, ORNL, Fraunhofer Institute, etc) and industry. These comprehend both SME deep-tech innovative start-ups (e.g., Markforged, Anisoprint, 9T Labs, Arevo Labs, APS tech solutions, Continuous Composites, etc) and large companies (e.g., Boeing, Airbus, Ingersoll, CEAD, etc).

The 3Dfy Project had an initial 2019-2021 RDI phase at the University of Girona, Spain, under the EU MSCA co-fund TECNIOspring+ program of the Catalan Agency for Business Competitiveness ACCIÓ, and it is currently being continued at the Institute of Fundamental Technological Research, Poland, under the 2022-2024 EU MSCA co-fund PASIFIC program of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

3Dfy targets 3D printing of continuous fiber reinforced polymers at the Institute of Fundamental Technological Research, Poland

In the original project, a new fused filament fabrication 3D Printing technology for continuous fiber-reinforced high-performance thermoplastic polymers (e.g., PEI, PES, PEEK, PEKK) was proposed. The novelty resided in the fact that pre-impregnated composite tapes available from the industrial Automatic Fiber Placement composite manufacturing process are used as feedstock (instead of pre-impregnated filaments).

Main use cases included lightweight and high thermo-mechanical performance (stiffness, strength, fracture toughness, temperature, humidity, radiation, chemical agents resistance) applications operating under severe loading and environmental conditions, for industries like aerospace, automotive, bio-mechanics (e.g., tools/tooling, functional prototypes, complex brackets, casings and paneling, hot engine parts, intricate duct bodies and connectors, CubeSats, UAV/drone bodies, small scale wind turbine blades, robotic parts, sporting goods, and prosthetic implants.

We are very pleased to announce that the list of winners of the first edition of the competition PASIFIC Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (scholarship program of the Polish Academy of Sciences) includes Dr. Adi Adumitroaie, who will implement the project: “3D Printing of High Performance Polymer Composites (3Dfy)”.

In the first edition of the PASIFIC Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, 348 applications from scientists from 60 countries were submitted, and 35 winners from 15 countries were selected to conduct their research at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Their projects cover 17 disciplines from all three panels – physical sciences and engineering (15 fellowships), life sciences (10) and social sciences and humanities (10).

The new Project “3D Printing of High Performance Polymer Composites (3Dfy)”, under Dr. Adi Adumitroaie aims to develop and prove an innovative 3D printing processing method for the target high-performance composite materials and their applications. The project takes into consideration several aspects such the continuous fiber reinforcement (e.g., carbon, glass) that inherently provides superior mechanical performances (e.g., stiffness, strength) to the composite; and the high performance thermoplastic matrix (e.g., PEEK, PEKK, PEI, PPS) with superior thermo-mechanical performances (e.g., thermal, chemical, radiation, environmental, abrasion, resistance, fracture toughness) for the 3D printed composite.

The innovation aspect refers to a new type of extrusion head able to process a new feedstock type compared to the current state-of-the-art dealing with the same problem, and the composite 3D printing new method and technology. The market available pre-impregnated composite tapes with rectangular cross-sections are used as feedstock instead of in-house and proprietary pre-impregnated filaments with a circular cross-section (as currently done by other players on the same market segment).

The project addresses the coupled aspects of (a) multiphase (polymer matrix and reinforcing fibers) feedstock materials for the composite 3D printer; (b) composite 3D printing processing technology for the feedstock materials; (c) performances of the output 3D printed composite materials. The project covers thus multi-disciplinary, multi-physics and multi-scale aspects including materials science and technology (reinforcing fibers and polymer matrix constituents, their compatibility, polymer matrix formulation, additives and modifiers needed according to the processing method); feedstock material development; process technology; product (composite 3DP extrusion head) development; digital manufacturing, automation and control; composite materials design, analysis and physical testing; virtual modeling and simulation; process and product validation.

The project builds on the previous RDI of the PI Dr. Adi Adumitroaie and aims to continue the initial RDI, increasing the TRL and advancing the technology to the market.

 

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