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Advantages Of Continuous Fiber 3D Printing Technology

Jul 24, 2020

Continuous fiber 3D printing technology comprehensively utilizes industrial robots, 3D printing end effectors, in-situ detection, intelligent monitoring, and machine learning technologies to quickly transport and deposit continuous fiber reinforcements, as well as matrix resins and in-situ impregnation and curing, as compared to traditional Compared with processes such as automatic wire laying and fused deposition forming, the degree of automation and flexibility is higher. For typical carbon fiber/polyetheretherketone parts, the development cycle can be shortened to 1/30 of the original, and the production speed can be increased by 100 times. The continuous fiber 3D printer can be composed of multiple robots to form a flexible unit, and multiple 3D printing end effectors can be added to the robot. At the same time, the print head can support materials such as carbon fiber, Kevlar, glass fiber, and even optical fiber and metal wire. It can be used for mass production of composite parts, and it can also print highly complex geometric shapes or critical parts that require extremely precise manufacturing.

Currently, 3D printing technology developers and robot manufacturers in the United States and Europe have jointly developed a series of advanced continuous fiber 3D printing equipment and manufacturing processes. The main application directions and developments are as follows.

Continuous fiber 3D printing

The American company Arivo has developed a direct energy deposition (DED) process that can print thermoplastic prepreg tow into parts, and Airbus Capital has participated in the company's investment. The DED work cell consists of an industrial robot, a laser heating print head and a rotating construction platform. Compared with traditional 3D printing, it can increase the production speed by 100 times. In addition to aviation parts such as drone fuselage and wings, Arivo also produces bicycle frames similar to drone frame structures. Continuous fiber 3D printing technology shortens the development cycle from 18 months to 18 days. The company's new factory, which was put into use in February 2019, has 8 robot work cells that can complete printing itself, post-processing (such as drilling) and pre-grinding for spraying, and can produce a total of 8 large parts per day. The company is testing multiple print heads per robot and multiple robots per work cell to increase production speeds by a factor of three. In order to maintain quality and repeatability throughout the speed-up process, the company uses in-situ detection and machine learning technology to equip the print head with multiple sensors (for measuring height, pressure, deformation, etc.), and the system software uses these sensor data, Adjust the process parameters in real time as needed. In this way, when the work cell needs to run faster, it can ensure that the deposition rate, heating, curing and other parameters are optimally matched.