Carbon fiber materials have proven extremely popular on Stratasys’ industrial-scale FDM 3D printers for a variety of end-use applications, such as jigs, fixtures and tooling. With FDM ABS-CF10, Stratasys now makes carbon fiber much more accessible to the engineering and manufacturing community using high-performance F170, F270, and F370 3D printers. The material is scheduled to be available in April 2021, and the company is now taking orders.
FDM ABS-CF10 features 10% chopped carbon fiber, which make it a compelling alternative to metal parts. The material is 15% stronger and more than 50% stiffer than standard ABS, but it does not weigh nearly as much as metal. By using QSR Support water-soluble material, a manufacturer can 3D print intricate and complex parts without time-consuming manual support removal.
UK-based Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group specializes in the conversion and modification of military, civil and business aircraft, along with defense vehicle engineering and shelter manufacturing. The company uses both Fortus 450mc and F370 3D printers for a variety of tooling applications.
“All the tooling we create has different and often unique requirements,” said Chris Botting, materials and environmental engineering manager at Marshall. “Our F370 3D printers offer us the flexibility to choose from a wide variety of materials based on application demands while still producing functional parts. 3D printing parts that we historically would have made of metal has led to a significant cost reduction compared to machining the part out of aluminum, while reducing overall part weight. We can’t wait to begin to realize the benefits of FDM ABS-CF10 for creating manufacturing aids like we have with our other carbon fiber materials.”
Stratasys’ internal analysis suggests the additive manufacturing market for polymer jigs and fixtures is expected to grow at a 14.2% annual rate between 2019 and 2023, to nearly $600 million, double the growth rate of the prior four years. With its FDM ABS-CF10 material, Stratasys is particularly focused on addressing applications in the aerospace, automotive, industrial, and recreational manufacturing industries. Parts applications include end effectors used with industrial robots, ergonomic aids such as lift assists and hand tools, and alignment fixtures on assembly lines.
“There is a reason why manufacturers are increasingly turning to 3D printed carbon fiber materials,” said Stratasys Senior Vice President of Manufacturing Dick Anderson. “It’s incredibly strong, versatile and lightweight. We want to enable all our FDM customers to take advantage of those material characteristics. Introducing FDM ABS-CF10 is a significant step in growing 3D printing’s presence in the global manufacturing industry.”