3D printing company MakerBot, a subsidiary of Stratasys, is entering the composite 3D printing market with the launch of its latest product series: the METHOD Carbon Fiber Editions. MakerBot’s new offering, along with its new MakerBot Nylon Carbon Fiber material, will enable users to produce high-strength tools, jigs and fixtures as well as end use parts, including metal replacement parts for various applications.
As we covered in our latest eBook on Advanced Materials, the composite AM market is growing and is poised to become a massive opportunity for the 3D printing sector. As a manufacturer of desktop FFF 3D printing systems, MakerBot has seen this potential and is joining the promising and expanding segment. Its new systems, the METHOD and METHOD X Carbon Fiber Editions, come pre-configured with a composite extruder that is optimized for processing abrasive, fiber-filled materials.
Customers can also upgrade their existing METHOD and METHOD X systems by simply installing the new extruder, which has hardened metal drive gears, a metal filament switch and an interchangeable hardened steel nozzle. The new composite extruder is capable of printing the MakerBot Nylon Carbon Fiber material as well as other MakerBot and METHOD-supported filaments, including PC-ABS, PC-ABS FR, ABS, ASA, Nylon, PETG, Tough, PLA, and soluble support materials SR-30 and PVA.
The new MakerBot Nylon Carbon Fiber material has strong mechanical and thermal properties, which make it suitable for metal replacement applications, including parts like vehicular brackets and inspection gauges, manufacturing tools like robotic end effectors and under-hood tooling components. Using carbon fiber-reinforced plastics instead of metals can help to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
“Nylon carbon fiber is one of the most in-demand and exciting classes of materials. Its high strength, heat resistance, and stiffness properties make it ideal for printing metal replacement parts, helping reduce costs and increase overall efficiency for companies,” explained Nadav Goshen, President and CEO of MakerBot. “With the launch of METHOD Carbon Fiber, we are making composite 3D printing more accessible to more users than ever before and opening the door to new applications. METHOD Carbon Fiber is the latest addition to the rapidly growing METHOD 3D printing platform.”
MakerBot’s METHOD platform lends itself well to processing composite parts thanks to its heated build chamber. This feature, the company says, results in strong carbon fiber parts with a high quality finish. The dual-extrusion system can simultaneously print the nylon carbon fiber filament with a PVA soluble support material to produce complex geometries with internal cavities. Parts can also be annealed to achieve superior strength using the METHOD platform’s new heated chamber annealing feature. The system also has a dry-sealed filament bay to protect the moisture-sensitive composite filament.
Down the line, MakerBot will release additional composite materials for the METHOD Carbon Fiber technology. The METHOD X, whose build chamber can reach higher temperatures of up to 110°C (compared to 60°C on the METHOD), will be compatible with an even broader range of high-performance composites and can achieve even higher quality finishes. The new composite-compatible system, the upgradeable composite extruder and the MakerBot Nylon Carbon Fiber material are expected to begin shipping in June 2020.