Additive Fusion Technology: Moving Structural Composites into a New Area of Sustainable and Cost Competitive Manufacturing
Hybrid post - print process advances are being used to increase the already high level of design freedom and performance achievable with a novel additive manufacturing and compression molding process—itself a hybrid—to produce structural carbon fibre - reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) composite parts that are cost competitive in smaller sizes (<20 kg) and low to moderate production volumes (100 - 10,000/annually)—a niche that traditionally has not been competitive for carbon composites, so tends to be dominated by metals. These parts can be produced more quickly and with unmatched control of fibre orientation than nearly any other CFRTP forming process. They also can achieve fiber - volume fraction (FVF) levels that are typically associated with thermosets rather than with higher - viscosity thermoplastics. This presentation will describe the basic hybrid printing and forming process, then illustrate how the ability to further modify the process has led to the development of high - performing and cost - competitive novel composite parts for a number of demanding market segments.