The 3D printing of carbon fiber composites is still a pretty rare event. It's been done in some high-end aerospace applications, as we've reported before. Recently, we told you about the first commercial carbon fiber 3D printer using continuous fiber, unveiled at SolidWorks by US-based company MarkForged. It turns out there's at least one more, noncommercial machine that 3D-prints a carbon fiber composite, although it's not for sale. You can use the manufacturer's services and materials for making more industrial-strength products and prototypes.
The company, Italy-based CRP Technology, has 3D-printed a 1:14 scale model of a yacht in carbon fiber composites in order to demonstrate the possibilities and give a boost to boat design. The model was displayed at last month's Miami Boat Show. The yacht model is called the Livrea26, designed by Livrea Yacht Italia in concert with CRP. It is inspired by the traditional fishing boats from the island of Pantelleria, according to a press release.
CRP Technology uses selective laser sintering (SLS), plus composite materials under its Windform brand, for producing short-run end-production parts. These final parts are mostly for sport and road vehicles, as well as for prototypes and conceptual models. The materials can also be processed with tooling and CNC machined. The composite material used for the yacht model is Windform XT 2.0, a carbon fiber filled polyamide. You can watch a video showing some of the printing process of the boat here.
The XT 2.0 material is also used in unmanned aerial vehicles, a.k.a. drones, and in other aerospace applications, such as tiny satellites known as CubeSats. It's also used to make under-hood components, including cooling ducts and intake manifolds, for sport vehicles such as motorcycles. Mercedes is listed as one of its users. You can see some specs on XT 2.0 here and a data sheet here. Other SLS composite materials using fiberglass and carbon reinforcement are also available. CRP also sells those materials separately.
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CRP Technology has 3D-printed a 1:14 scale model of a yacht in carbon fiber composites in order to demonstrate the possibilities of the material used with its selective laser sintering 3D printing process and to give a boost to boat design. (Source: CRP Technology)
FDM is a very effective method for producing prototype parts. Process parameters will have a large influence on part performance. Since we are using a different method, the part results are different. Utilizing a Laser Sintering machine we have the ability to fully melt the material during the layering process, with the energy penetrating to the layer below. The material is non-isotropic, as the microfibers align themselves during the re-coating process, but due to the materials properties and machine settings we do not see layer separations. Even when used in high vibration areas such as the parts that CRP USA (our partner in Mooresville NC) produces for NASCAR teams that race the parts every weekend attached to an engine turning more than 9000 rpm.
Windform compares similarly to several filled plastics utilized in manufacturing. Data sheets are available at Windform.eu as well as charts that rank the materials in the Download section at the website. Ann Thryft has commented that the industry is moving forward to establish testing standards through ASTM Committee F42 (We participated in the kick off of this process a few years back). We encourage people who are interested to join and or follow the progress.
It is interesting that you are looking toward Aerospace. Windform materials have passed Out Gas testing per NASA screening and are being utilized to produce components as well as structures for Cube Satellites.
William, I agree. But we're some ways away from that goal. Lots of R&D is proceeding to establish such metrics, as we've reported several times. Meanwhile this yacht model is more of a proof of concept.
What would be really useful is a comparison of the physical properties of the printed composite object compared to those made in the standard manner. Is there a trade-off, and if so, how much? That is the sort of thing that is usefulk in considering as to if a fabrication method is applicable for some part.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a surface preparation method to improve joining carbon composites with aluminum, with potentially far-reaching ramifications for high-volume industrial applications.
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