Impossible Objects is presenting two watershed advances in composite 3D printing for the factory floor. The company’s latest 3D printing system, the CBAM-2, and a new partnership with BASF focused on PA6-carbon fiber composites extend Impossible Objects’ patented composite based additive manufacturing process (CBAM) to an unprecedented range of industrial applications.
“It’s been exciting to see how our customers are putting our approach to work to create high-performance parts for everything from aircraft and cars to lightweight athletic gear,” said Impossible Objects Founder and Chairman Bob Swartz. “We’re continuing to bring machines, materials and expertise to the market to transform the entire manufacturing process, from prototyping through to high-volume production.”
CBAM-2 speeds production of 3D parts at scale
The new CBAM-2 3D printing system, presented at RAPID + TCT this week, delivers complex parts on an industrial scale and reportedly speeds up the AM process as much as 10x. The CBAM-2 combines high-performance polymers with long-fiber carbon and fiberglass sheets to rapidly print composite parts that are stronger, lighter, with better temperature performance and more durable than parts made using conventional 3D printing methods.
Since Impossible Objects launched its flagship Model One 3D printer at RAPID 2017, a number of Fortune 500 companies have adopted it. Customers include major automotive manufacturer Ford Motor Company, manufacturing services company Jabil, the United States Air Force and the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR), among others.
The CBAM-2 is also capable of 3D printing parts from composite materials that are not widely available for other 3D printing methods, at least not with the same level of reinforcement offered by Impossible Objects. Combining carbon fiber and fiberglass sheets with high-performance thermoplastics like PEEK and Nylon can produce parts with better strength-to-weight ratios than metals, along with superior temperature performance and chemical resistance.
The new system also supports larger parts, with printed sheets that can reach up to 12 x 12 inches in size with increased precision. The CBAM-2 features three added cameras, ensuring greater quality control and guaranteeing each sheet is printed perfectly and each inkjet nozzle is fired seamlessly.
In addition, the new automatic powder filling reduces fill-time to days, and bulk ink cartridges eliminate the need to refill ink frequently, allowing the machines to run efficiently for longer periods of time. The systems are expected to be available to customers at the beginning of Q3.
An unmatched range of material choices
Impossible Objects also announced that through a collaboration with chemical giant BASF, its Model One and CBAM-2 printers will support BASF’s Ultrasint PA6 (polyamide 6) powder, allowing customers to 3D print high-performance carbon fiber-PA6 composite parts for the first time.
Carbon fiber-PA6 composites offer better strength and temperature performance at a lower cost than PA12 and are up to four times stronger than conventional Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) parts and twice as strong as Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) parts made with PA12.
“Our collaboration with Impossible Objects opens up new possibilities for customers, especially in the automotive and industrial sectors where we’re seeing strong demand for PA6,” said Kara Noack, regional business director for BASF 3D Printing Solutions. “This partnership is in line with our philosophy of open innovation and support for open platforms. We’re encouraged by how Impossible Objects is using PA6 and are excited to work together to advance the state of additive manufacturing.”
Bob Swartz, Chairman and Founder of Impossible Objects, added: “We’re honored to be collaborating with BASF 3D Printing Solutions to make this economical workhorse polymer, which is used in an enormous number of industrial applications, available to our customers.”
PA6 adds to Impossible Objects’ currently supported materials and will be available for shipment in Q3. For information on the collaboration, please see this video.
Additional funding on the way
To meet the demand for its products, Impossible Objects has raised $4.1 million in funding in a round led by returning investor OCA Ventures, bringing total funding to more than $13 million. The company raised $6.4 million in Series A funding in October 2017 from OCA Ventures, IDEA Fund Partners, Mason Avenue Investments, Huizenga Capital Management, and Inflection Equity Partners.