3D printing solution for fiber composites
The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has developed an additive manufacturing process for fibre composite components based on the Arburg Plastic Freeforming-Process. A prototype in the laboratories proves the feasibility. The institute and the mechanical engineering company Arburg are cooperating in the specially built Innovation Center (AIC) in order to develop future industry-oriented innovations in fiber-reinforced plastics.
In contrast to the conventional production of fibre composites, the new, automated process makes it possible to distribute and align individual fiber bundles ("rovings") or fibre yarns according to prearranged requirements. For this, a specially developed fiber feed unit rotates around the plastic discharge nozzle in the 3D printing process. It places the fibers in such a way that they are directly implemented into the component by the discharged plastic in the printing process. "The difficulty was to control, cut and re-implement the continuous fiber in such a way that the printing of complex, rounded shapes and also the locally limited fiber reinforcement of partial areas could be realized," explains Florian Baumann, who is working on the project as a doctoral student.