9T Labs, a young startup founded in 2018, has introduced its first product, the Red Series by 9T all-in-one solution for composite series production. The company had scheduled the launch to coincide with JEC, the most important composite show in the world (which however has been postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak concerns): the chance to see it first hand will hopefully come around in May but in the meantime here’s what we know.
First of all the goal of the 9T Labs team, as explained to 3dpbm by Yannick Willemin, Business Development Specialist at 9T Labs, during the past Formnext, is to mass-produce high-performance composites as easily as metals. The Red Series package does this by automating and digitizing the production workflow of composite production. 9T set out to provide an all-in-one solution to help customers radically ramp up their composites series production and rapidly turn their series production ideas into production cases.
The company first built fibrify, a software as a service (SaaS) suite, powered by integrated FEA simulation tools to quickly find optimal designs. Combined with specific additive manufacturing equipment and with advanced post-processing technology, the Red Series package enables serial manufacturing of structural composite parts.
Fibrify has also been integrated with ANSYS’ Composite PrepPost (ACP) which helps create lightweight parts without producing or testing them in advance. A new interface in ACP can directly import complex fiber lay-ups established in fibrify and converts them automatically into a finite element model. Parts composed partially of neat plastic in addition to a fiber lay-up, as is often the case in composite 3D printing, can also be simulated easily. During an iterative process of geometry design and fiber lay-up composition in fibrify and running simulations through ACP, an optimal design is found.
Subsequently, fibrify allows users to connect to 9T Labs’ equipment, start production and monitor the process. In the Build Module, a preform is made after which the Fusion Module consolidates the part for end-use in a structural application. This combination of additive manufacturing and advanced post-processing is referred to as Additive Fusion Technology. It is available – along with 100 hours/year of engineering support and consumables – as part of the Red Series subscription, which ensures that users always have the newest software and latest hardware.
The Red Series build module has a build volume of 350mm x 270mm x 250mm, with a heated build chamber (> 100°C), integrated heated material storage and deposition temperature capability up to 400°C (whcih means it can process PEEK matrix materials). The Fusion module has the same volume, with a modularly configurable fusion chamber that also goes up to 400°C. 9T Labs’ technology was developed to support the use of industry-standard material. The current material portfolio includes PA12 and PEKK as matrix materials, continuous carbon fiber type: AS4 and up to 60% fiber volume content (with void content < 1%).