The amount of advanced additive manufacturing technologies available are growing rapidly. Since the introduction of digitalized additive manufacturing for fiber-reinforced composites, we are now entering into a period where they are becoming more desirable than ever before. Most manufacturers believe these technologies will revolutionize the way we develop and produce our products in the future. Companies are increasingly using composites additive manufacturing for more than just flat laminates, due to the technology’s advantages in design, production time, and price - which fit the customers’ increasing demands for flexible products and short deadlines. Here are some of the benefits experienced with composites additive manufacturing:
Flexible production without stocking
Works in conjunction with other 3D printing technologies
Short delivery time
Affordable unit prices for small series production
Individual flexibility independent of serial size
Still not convinced whether composites additive manufacturing is relevant for your company? Below are two theoretical cases from companies who have already applied composites additive manufacturing in their production.
Carbon fiber wheels
Currently, making wheel barrels from aluminum is most common. However, with the advent of the electric vehicle, the need for reducing weight, to increase the range, has put further pressure on the wheel barrel producers.
In order to make an optimized wheel barrel, you need hoop, axial, and shear reinforcements in the right areas. Building a wheel manufacturing facility to incorporate all these aspects poses a lot of challenges. The main challenge to solve is how to apply the fiber reinforcements accurately at scale, without shooting labor costs through the roof.
A compact composite additive manufacturing system is capable of performing all of the above, and more, to suit the individual need of the production. The only downside comes with the looks, as the famous weave pattern is difficult to achieve using such a method. However, this opens the possibility to coloring the wheels for specific color schemes, and we believe many auto manufacturers would not mind this to achieve a greater range per charge.
Optimizing a wing
Currently, small-sized planes and drones are increasingly being used not only for carrying passengers, but also to ship cargo faster and with using less fuel. The electric drones are proposed to be the solution for just-in-time short distance delivery. However, a major challenge with maximizing production of such drones, is that the wings are produced at a low scale and in a rather unoptimized manner.
Since drones are a relatively new segment of production operation, the manufacturers are constantly on the look for optimizing the range and payload of the drone, and are often interested in automating production when possible. Increasing the wingspan made from advanced composites is a good solution for both drones and small aircraft, providing better lift without adding any weight.
Production of these relatively larger span wings can be achieved through a compact composite additive manufacturing system, that is capable of performing wing span level laminating and suited for growing demand. Additionally, the optimized use of material can add to the design flexibility and faster time to market, while reducing the waste generated through processing.
Start experimenting with composites additive manufacturing
Addcomposites has just opened its door for SMEs and Technical Centers to conduct pilots using the AFP-XS system. In order to get started, just get in touch with either Pravin Luthada or James Kuligoski to briefly discuss the idea and your potential product you want to explore. To eliminate the hassle of testing in the facility we propose the following:
Material: if you are planning to use any new material, send us a small amount. We can make a sample laminate and send the sample to you for testing the final layup for your application.
Shape trials: If you have a complex shape that you would want us to work on, just send us the model under the Mutual NDA available on our website. We can provide virtual feedback on the shape laying feasibility.
For other exploration, just ping us and we will brainstorm together how to move forward.
What is AFP-XS
AFP-XS is the ultra compact composite additive manufacturing tool that mounts onto many motion platforms to provide aerospace-grade composite production for as low as €1999/month. The operations are kept as simple as a 3D printer with the added functionality of orienting each layer and shape. The plug-n-play AFP systems are 100x times easier to acquire and install, depending on your part size and shape needs. This approach has the potential to bring composites additive manufacturing to thousands of SMEs.
Reach out today to see how you can get started automating the layup of your parts!