CW Blog

Arevo in 2018:  Industrialized production of continuous fiber 3D-printed parts

CW has covered Arevo (Santa Clara, CA, US) since 2014. Known for its use of high-performance thermoplastic polymers, including polyetheretherketone (PEEK), polyaryletherketone (PAEK), polyetherimide (PEI) and polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), the company was also a leader in developing closed-loop robotic control for 3D printing, enabling placement of fiber in the z direction and along 3D curves. The company has a list of new developments, including its direct energy deposition (DED) process using laser heating for a 100-fold increase in production speed.

 

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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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Composite materials, by their nature, have a greater amount of surface imperfections as compared to metal. Further, the process can be more complex to prepare a composite surface for paint. Surface imperfections can require extra steps to achieve a paint-ready aircraft surface, increasing processing time and labor costs.

Some composite structures require surface fillers to tackle imperfections like pinholes, print-through or other blemishes. These blemishes traditionally undergo a repetitive sand/fill/sand cycle before the surface is ready for prime and paint. Henkel surfacing films are designed to eliminate these extra steps, providing a ready-to-prime and paint part with minimal surface preparation…READ MORE.

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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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