Of all the families of materials used for additive manufacturing, fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites present unique characteristics, benefits and challenges. Additive manufacturing promises to evolve the adoption of composite materials, making it more efficient, cost-effective and fast to mass produce parts that can offer an unparalleled combination of properties.

The reason why that is not the case is that traditional composite manufacturing – based on woven fiber sheets in a  thermoset (epoxy) resin matrix is among the most manual labor intensive – and costly  –  among manufacturing processes. Composites today are used to make high end automotive, sports equipment, medical and aircraft parts: products that are highly customized and not mass-produced. The ultimate goal of the firms working on additive manufacturing of composites is to make the production of composite parts scalable, without sacrificing materials properties.

Achieving this goal requires some of the most complex manufacturing engineering know-how, along with some of the most complex manufacturing hardware and software that has ever been developed. The transition towards automated, mass-produced composite parts will be a gradual one. Additive manufacturing is the core element of it but it is not the only one: new technologies are emerging that more or less seamlessly combine AM processes within an automated end-to-end workflow in order to ensure the highest level of performance. This is inextricably connected to the use of continuous fibers.

However, composites AM is not just about top part performance but also about improving the performance of polymer 3D printed parts, to make parts stronger, lighter and larger. This is where additive manufacturing of chopped fiber composites found its – rapidly growing –  niche. 3D printing with chopped fibers of differing lengths is much less complicated than 3D printing with continuous fibers and it emerged first.

  • Airtech 3D named as Brumos Racing Technical Partner. Aerodynamically enhancing the Porsche racecar using 3D printed composite mold tooling.

    Airtech 3D named as Brumos Racing Technical Partner

    Airtech Advanced Materials Group, a leading manufacturer of composite tooling solutions, has announced that it has been named a Brumos Racing Technical Partner. Airtech has teamed up with BBi Autosport to produce 3D printed molds and composite production parts for a newly updated Porsche GT2 RS Clubsport racecar, for the…

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  • Continuous Composites selected by NASA's SBIR Program. To additively manufacture low CTE open isogrid composite structures for space.

    Continuous Composites selected by NASA’s SBIR Program

    Continuous Composites, an advanced composite 3D printing technology company, has been selected by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program to additively manufacture low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) open isogrid composite structures for space applications, using its patented Continuous Fiber 3D Printing (CF3D) technology. In space, the temperature of…

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  • Planting the CEAD of composites LFAM. An interview with Lucas Janssen, co-founder and CEO of CEAD, how it started and where it is now.

    Sowing the CEAD of composites LFAM

    We sat down with Lucas Janssen and touched on the origins of CEAD (their experience starting back in 2011 with Leapfrog 3D Printers), some of the challenges the team faced while building what CEAD is today, and the purpose and motivation behind the company’s pioneering activity in composites LFAM. Today…

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  • Bell and Ingersoll 3D printed a 22-foot long main rotor blade trim tool

    Ingersoll Machine Tools and Bell Textron, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, have revealed the details of a collaborative effort utilizing the MasterPrint 3D large-format 3D printer to successfully manufacture a 22-foot-long vacuum trim tool for the production of main rotor blade components. The impressive project was actually completed in…

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  • Anisoprint Additive Flow

    A new paradigm for composite additive manufacturing

    Anisoprint is a company operating at the forefront of composite materials and additive manufacturing. Founded in 2015, the company has brought to market a series of turnkey solutions for continuous fiber 3D printing for the production of industrial end-use parts. These solutions, along with Anisoprint’s in-depth material and engineering expertise,…

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  • Dyndrite to power HARP, CBAM and new Meteoryte software

    Dyndrite, the company that developed an accelerated computation engine to control to handle large digital manufacturing files, has extended and signed new partnerships with key AM industry pioneers such as Azul 3D, Impossible Objects and Meteor Inkjet’s new Meteoryte software. It should be noted that these companies have developed, or…

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  • Alba Orbital’s printed PocketQube deployer achieves new goal. The deployer was 3D printed by CRP Technology using Windform XT 2.0.

    Alba Orbital’s printed PocketQube deployer achieves new goal

    Alba Orbital’s PocketQube deployer, 3D printed by CRP Technology using Windform XT 2.0 as the printing material, has reached a new milestone. It has successfully taken part in Rocket Lab’s latest space mission from New Zealand, deploying four PocketQubes into a circular orbit. It was also a recovery mission where,…

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  • Markforged CEO Shai Terem: “Real growth is coming to AM”

    After going public and trading on NYSE since July 2021, Markforged has been releasing detailed data on its performance. For over a decade, all 3D printing stocks have suffered from long periods of decreasing value interrupted by short bursts of very rapid growth. Markforged’s stock has been no different; and…

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  • Stratasys F123 Series adds two new composite-ready 3D printers. Expanding AM applications with new printers and Nylon-CF10 fiber material.

    Stratasys F123 Series adds two new composite-ready 3D printers

    Stratasys Ltd., a leader in polymer 3D printing solutions, has expanded its F123 Series of 3D printers with the introduction of the F190CR and F370CR 3D printers, plus new FDM Nylon-CF10 material reinforced with carbon fiber. The new printers offer high stiffness and strength materials in a hardened machine ready…

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  • Stratasys releases 16 new materials for SAF, FDM and P3 technologies

    Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS), a leader in polymer 3D printing solutions, led off a slew of announcements across AM hardware, materials and software segments with the launch of 16 new materials across three of its AM technologies (SAF, FDM, and Origin P3 photopolymerization). Overall, the new materials include Stratasys Validated…

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