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.

  • 3D printing challenge awards $25,000 to innovate with CFR filament

    Wevolver, in partnership with materials company Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials, launched a High-Temperature CFR Filament 3D Printing Challenge. The challenge winner will receive $25,000 worth of manufacturing services and support to realize their idea into a physical prototype using newly developed cutting-edge KyronMAX materials. The challenge invites designers, engineers, and…

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  • HexAM by Hexcel awarded long-term contract for Boeing 777X AM parts

    Hexcel Corporation (NYSE: HXL) has been awarded a multi-year contract to produce aerospace structures made with HexPEKK-100 for the Boeing 777X. The parts will be manufactured via the HexAM by Hexcel process at the company’s additive manufacturing site near Hartford, Connecticut. The Boeing 777X family of aircraft also uses the large…

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  • Composites AM startup Caracol closes €3.5 millions seed investment

    Caracol, an Italian innovative startup SME specialized in advanced composites AM solutions, closed a €3.5 million seed investment round. This round sees Primo Ventures with Primo Space Fund and EUREKA! Venture SGR with EUREKA! Fund joins the company as lead investors, together with a group of business angels. The operation…

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  • Advancing printheads, data preparation and mass customization

    Dyndrite, the provider of a core accelerated computation engine used to create next-generation digital manufacturing hardware and software, has revealed three high-profile partnerships focusing on different aspects of the additive manufacturing workflow. In particular, the company is working with Xaar and Meteor Inkjet to develop more efficient inkjet printheads for…

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  • Tethon 3D launches carbon nanotube C-Lite ESD resin for stereolithography

    Tethon 3D, leveraging Mechnano MechT technology, will soon commercially launch C-Lite, a high-temperature-resistant carbon nanotube ESD material, printable on SLA, DLP and LCD Additive Manufacturing (AM) printers. Using Mechnano’s E35A Masterbatch for static dissipative (ESD) properties from Dymax, in combination with its own formulas, Tethon 3D created an ESD resin,…

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  • ExOne launches X1 Tooling portfolio of industrial-grade 3D printed tooling

    The ExOne Company launched the new X1 Tooling portfolio of industrial-grade 3D printed tooling, offering new solutions for plastic injection molding or forming, laying up composites, casting metals, and more. ExOne is expanding its tooling portfolio following the previously announced acquisition of assets from Freshmade 3D as well as successful…

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  • ARRIS, US Army and LIFT to collaborate on lightweight vehicles

    ARRIS is partnering up with the US Army’s Michigan-based Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center (DEVCOM GVSC) to leverage its Additive Molding technology in a project focused on lightweight vehicles. In particular, the companies will look at vehicle seats, to demonstrate significant vehicle weight reductions through part consolidation,…

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  • Made in Luxembourg: Anisoprint starts production in the EU

    Anisoprint, a manufacturer of continuous fiber 3D printing machines, earned the label from the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce for the companies complying with their standards — Made in Luxembourg. It has been almost three years since Anisoprint established its headquarters in the EU. Last year, in 2020, the production was…

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  • Beluga 3D printed sailboat on display at Milan Design Week

    As reported by our Italian-language sister website, large-format 3D printing company Caracol will show Beluga, its 3D printed monocoque sailboat, during the upcoming Milan Design Week in September. In addition, for the first time ever in a project of this size and scope, the boat was produced using recycled…

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  • Boeing 3D prints large-scale composite AM cure tool

    Thermwood was a key development partner in a Navy ManTech-funded program issued to Boeing Research and Technology to produce a large-scale composite AM cure tool. The ManTech program was managed by Advanced Technology International (ATI) for the Office of Naval Research (ORN) with funding provided from the Naval Air Systems…

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