Continuous Composites, Spatial partner to advance composite 3D printing

As part of the partnership, Continuous Composites will use Spatial Corp.’s 3D software to advance its robotic continuous-fiber 3D printing technology.
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Spatial Corp. (Broomfield, Colo., U.S.), a subsidiary of Dassault Systèmes (Waltham, Mass., U.S.), is partnering with Continuous Composites (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, U.S.), to produce a moldless, out-of-autoclave (OOA) composite manufacturing process using Continuous Composites’ continuous-fiber 3D printing (CF3D) process and Spatial’s 3D software.

The CF3D process uses an industrial robot to print with dry fibers, impregnated with resin in situ, removing the need for expensive molds and capital equipment such as autoclaves and ovens. The process starts with high-performance continuous fibers such as aerospace-grade carbon fiber, glass fiber or Kevlar. During the printing process, the fiber is impregnated with a rapid-curing thermoset resin inside the print head, and an industrial robot controlled by CF3D software creates the needed print head motion while the impregnated fiber is pulled through the print head. The wet fiber is then cured using a high-intensity energy source (for example, UV, heat, etc.), instantaneously resulting in a true 3D composite part.

“Our CF3D process enables true 3D printing, moving beyond the traditional stacking of 2D layers to create the final product. As a result, we needed innovative software to drive our patented CF3D process,” says Tyler Alvarado, CEO of Continuous Composites. “Spatial’s CGM Core Modeler provides us not only with a powerful geometric modeling kernel for our software, but also access to quick and efficient geometric operations needed for generating the complex toolpaths needed for CF3D. In addition to the CGM Core Modeler, we are excited about the possibilities CGM Polyhedra brings to our workflow. The power of polygonal and B-rep modeling can now be combined to enable workflow innovation never before possible.”

This partnership also provides Continuous Composites access to 3D InterOp, the industry-leading 3D CAD data translation software development toolkit. Spatial’s 3D InterOp enables Continuous Composites to import 3D data in all the major 3D data exchange formats into their CF3D software.

“Continuous Composites receiving the JEC Innovation Award for 3D printing at JEC World 2019 is recognition of the disruptive nature of this groundbreaking technology in manufacturing,” says Omar-Pierre Soubra, director of marketing and communications at Spatial Corp. “We are pleased to have our 3D modeling [software development toolkits] SDKs selected to power this revolutionary process.”

Read more about CF3D and other emerging continuous-fiber 3D printing processes in “Moving continuous-fiber 3D printing into production”