CW Blog

Getting carbon fiber cost down

 

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen the recent CW news story about 4M Carbon Fiber Corp. (Knoxville, TN, US) and its continuing efforts to produce standard modulus carbon fiber from textile grade PAN (polyacrylonitrile) precursor, in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL, Knoxville, TN, US), RMX Technologies, LLC (Knoxville, TN, US) and the University of Tennessee (here’s the link to the CW news story: https://www.compositesworld.com/news/4m-oak-ridge-national-lab-and-rmx-technologies-to-manufacture-low-cost-carbon-fiber-from-textile-pan-).

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CW has written about continuous fiber-reinforced 3D printed composites since 2014, when MarkForged released the Mark One printer at the SolidWorks World conference (Jan 26-29, 2014). We then covered Arevo and its development of multi-axis printing using continuous fiber, including in the z-direction and along contours via a robotic arm. This year, we wrote about Orbital Composites and its work with the Composites Technology Center in printing continuous fiber composites.

However, there is a company that has been printing in continuous composites since 2012. CW actually  published a short sidebar on Continuous Composites (Coeur D’Alene, ID, US) in Jan 2017 but its achievements deserve a lengthier discussion:

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TPCs have been flying on aircraft since the 1990s and in primary structure since 2010 — Gulfstream’s G650 features a carbon fiber/polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) rudder and elevator produced by GKN Aerospace’s (Redditch, UK) Fokker business using TenCate’s Cetex prepreg.

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Pultruded composites market growing, says EPTA

 

The European Pultrusion Technology Association (EPTA, Frankfurt, Germany) has published an in-depth report on its highly successful 2018 conference, which attracted a record number of composites professionals from around the world to Vienna on March 1-2, 2018. The 12-page document, World Pultrusion Conference 2018: Attractive Long-Term Prospects for Pultruded Composites, is available to download from the EPTA website. “This was EPTA's 14th World Pultrusion Conference and it was the biggest event ever,” says Dr. Elmar Witten, EPTA secretary. “The record number of 150 participants, coming from North and South America, Europe, India and South Africa, indicates a clear and growing interest in pultrusion globally. The high level of technology and application development activities showcased in the wide-ranging conference program is evidence of a strong determination to improve the competitiveness of pultruded products and pursue growth opportunities.”

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Tooling and carbon composite parts manufacturer Shape (Witney, Oxfordshire, UK) has a lot going on these days. The group’s machining operation recently doubled the size of its facility and the company has been using its ShapeTex preforming technology to offer a range of new visual options.

According to Shape they are able to deliver design composite parts, specify the laminate, analyze the laminate, design the tooling, manufacture the preform, hot press the part, CNC trim the part (if needed) and fully inspect it – all in-house. The ShapeTex preform uses a continuous tow of carbon fiber laid down to create a zero waste, optimized and accurately sized preform that can be directly consolidated into the finished part.

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