With the growing usage of composites across industries, Stratasys is making the material more easily accessible with the affordably priced Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition 3D printer.
Composite material has seen a year-over-year market growth between 8 to 12 percent in recent years. Because of their “light-weighting” ability, carbon fiber composite applications and carbon fiber reinforced polymers are considered clean energy technologies that reduce energy consumption. An estimated 10 percent reduction in vehicle mass drives a 6 to 8 percent increase in fuel economy according to various studies.
It’s not surprising that as the leading additive manufacturing brand in the world, Stratasys was one of the first to offer a carbon fiber filled composite on high-end production 3D printers in the $200-350k range. But customers wanted a more affordable and easier access in a reliable, industry-quality system.
With the Fortus 380mc CFE that’s dedicated only to carbon-fiber-filled Nylon 12 and one other material, Stratasys is able to offer it at the lowest price point possible among their industrial printers.
An early adopter is Team Penske who is using FDM technology to produce prototypes and end-use parts from carbon-fiber-filled Nylon 12 composite material for their IndyCar and NASCAR race cars.
Lightweight mirror housings with high impact resistance and stiffness are enabled with the carbon-fiber-based material, which is critical in motorsports. The stiffness is especially beneficial when making thin-walled parts so that parts won’t flex under the aerodynamic loads that are generated while racing on the race track.
Additive applications for carbon-fiber-filled Nylon 12 may include:
- Functional prototyping of composite or metal parts
- Short production runs in a high-strength material
- Producing lightweight assembly tools for better ergonomics and reduced worker fatigue
- Replacement of metal parts with high strength, lightweight composite ones
Industries that are expected to benefit from this include:
- Tooling and fixtures
- Recreational Sporting Equipment
- Orthosis and Prosthesis
- Medical Equipment
- Oil and Gas
Similar to a typical injection molded carbon fiber reinforced plastic part, Nylon 12CF is 35 percent chopped carbon fiber by weight and exhibits the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any FDM or FFF 3D printed part. The Fortus 380mc CFE is based on a proven platform that produces parts with repeatable dimensional accuracy and is now shipping at USD $70,000.