You already know carbon fiber is perhaps a wonder material, it can be up to five times stronger than steel, and one third its weight, proving to be ideal for any application that may require lightweight durability. Carbon fiber features a design profile that provides a unique look to anything produced with it, making it perfect for robotics, military, automotive and sports equipment applications.
Some of Carbon Fiber’s Challenges in Manufacturing
While carbon fiber offers many wonderful material properties, it isn’t without its challenges. Carbon fiber material traditionally requires a very labor intensive process to create parts. You must find an appropriate mold, prep it with resin, apply the carbon fiber sheet to the mold, add more resin and bake the mold before finishing the part for end use. Using large sheets of carbon fiber means that there will most certainly be at least a small amount of waste in the trimming process. Additive manufacturing has answered some of these process inefficiencies by enabling lower-cost, highly flexible manufacturing of strong lightweight composites, like carbon fiber.
Carbon Fiber Solutions in Action
As we announced earlier this week, Team Penske, a leader in competitive motorsports, is using carbon fiber technology in a variety of ways. “While drivers are focused on outperforming one another during racing season, the real competition starts weeks before with design and development in the shop. The power to deploy 3D printing early in the process gives Team Penske a tremendous advantage in the production of better, stronger and more aerodynamic race car parts,” said Matt Gimbel, Team Penske Production Manager. These cars are a prime example of the ways that carbon fiber materials can have a transformative effect on the design of a high-performance vehicle. If you are at IMTS in Chicago this week, you can stop by booth 431600 to view a No. 2 Team Penske racing vehicle and experience first hand how 3D printing car components on the car. Additionally, you’ll be able to experience our Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition printer as well as a Fortus F900 Production Printer on the show floor, during a booth tour. Both of these printers are factory floor ready, the Fortus 380mc CFE can produce prototypes while the Fortus 900 Production 3D Printer offers accuracy and repeatability with one of the largest print beds of any FDM offering.