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.

  • Markforged growth slows significantly in Q3, at +5% YoY

    The good news for Markforged Holding Corporation (NYSE: MKFG), a company looking to enable industrial production at the point of need, is that revenues grew again, by 5% YoY, to $25.2 million, in its fiscal Q3, which ended September 30, 2022. The not-as-good news is that growth slowed significantly if…

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  • Nexa3D to offer xESD resins based on Mechnano’s MechT

    Nexa3D, a global leader in ultrafast polymer 3D printing solutions, has released an ESD-safe resin for the fabrication of static-dissipative parts, powered by Mechnano’s MechT technology. The new Nexa3D xESD resin provides an innovative and cost-effective solution for fabricating high-resolution, static-dissipative parts required in a multitude of electronics applications, as…

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  • Anisoprint deploys R&D team at Jacobs University Bremen. Developing composites manufacturing with CFC technology.

    Anisoprint deploys R&D team at Jacobs University Bremen

    In September 2022, 3D printing solution provider, Anisoprint, deployed their Research and Development Team at Jacobs University Bremen. The main focus of the partnership was to foster the research and development of composites manufacturing with Continuous Fiber Coextrusion (CFC) technology, and establish a research environment for 3D printing technologies on…

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  • 9T Labs partners with Purdue University

    9T Labs AG, experts in digital, automated and cost-competitive serial production of continuous fiber components, entered into an official collaboration with Purdue University to research and test the potential of manufacturing structural aerospace composite applications at scale with 9T Labs’ Additive Fusion Technology (AFT). This partnership with Purdue, one of…

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  • Tetra Pak and Aectual 3D print recycled furniture. Using PolyAl from recycled cartons and proving the potential of large-scale upcycling.

    Tetra Pak and Aectual 3D print recycled furniture

    According to Tetra Pak, almost 200 billion beverage cartons were produced in 2021, and there are an estimated 5 billion buildings in the world. Therefore, it only makes sense to explore turning these cartons into high-value architectural materials, and decreasing humanity’s reliance on virgin materials used for building and furnishing…

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  • ReInhabit selects Azure to print ten homes using recycled plastic. Azure Printed Homes already has pre-orders exceeding $16 million.

    ReInhabit selects Azure to print ten homes using recycled plastic

    Azure Printed Homes (Azure), a company focused on the development of 3D printing building technology using recycled plastic, has been selected by Re-Inhabit, a Southern California home builder, for the production of ten 3D printed homes. ReInhabit plans to initially install them on three sites across Southern California. ReInhabit currently…

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  • 3Dfy targets 3D printing of continuous fiber reinforced polymers

    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…

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  • Scaling composites 3D printing into a new dimension

    Swiss startup 9T Labs stands out in the global 3D printing landscape for leveraging a unique process that combines extensive know-how in continuous fiber reinforced composites, additive manufacturing and tooling to target large serial production runs, across multiple market segments. Whenever a company does something unique in additive manufacturing, something…

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  • Eternha makes high-tech jewelry using composites and SLS technology

    Jewelry brand Eternha has chosen CRP Technology and its Windform GT, glass fiber reinforced composite material, commonly used to manufacture high resistance and advanced applications, to create some of the elements of their Men’s collection bracelets. This is an absolute novelty in the jewelry sector Jewelry brand company Eternha was…

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  • Jacobs University and Anisoprint partner to research CFC technology. Research, education, and technology transfer on continuous fiber 3D..

    Jacobs University and Anisoprint partner to research CFC technology

    The Luxembourg-based hardware start-up Anisoprint and Jacobs University Bremen have signed an agreement to foster research, education, and technology transfer on continuous fiber 3D printing. Anisoprint is known for its 3D printing systems for manufacturing continuous fiber-reinforced plastic parts that can substitute metal ones in aerospace and engineering. In collaboration…

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