A big part of what we have been covering regarding Continuous Composites’ activities is related to the company’s partnerships and participation in programs. It’s quite interesting to discover the company in a different light, and this is made possible thanks to a recent collaboration with Siemens Energy, a German company specialising in the manufacture of power plants, particularly thermal power plants, but also renewable power plants via its stake in Siemens Gamesa.
The 3D printer manufacturer and the energy company have been working together for several years on new designs for Additive Manufacturing (AM) with composites. Together, they developed developed a thermoset Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) material ideal for the development of generator parts.
Continuous Composites said the new material exceeds the requirements for the production of these generator components. The truth is, most generator components are produced using metal casting, a costly process that requires long lead times for manufacturers. Combining the Continuous Fiber 3D Printing – CF3D® process and the new material reveals a 5x reduction of manufacturing costs and decreased lead time from 8-10 months down to 3 weeks. According to the developer of the CF3D® process, this means that there is $1M in long-term downtime energy savings and a significant reduction in part weight and material waste.
“The superior mechanical performance of CF3D®, combined with the significant cost and lead time reduction, led to our selection of Continuous Composites,” said Dr. Joel Alfano, Principal Technology Development Engineer at Siemens Energy. “The opportunity to replace a metallic generator component with composite materials leveraging AM is a powerful breakthrough for solving the constraints we face in the Energy industry, and CF3D® technology is making it possible.”
As far as the material is concerned, its development required the expertise of Arkema’s Sartomer Business, a long-time materials partner of Continuous Composites. To be able to print complex parts that could not be manufactured using traditional composite techniques, and to meet the requirements of this application, it was of paramount importance that the material delivers a glass transition temperature (Tg) of 227°C and experiences minimal strength loss at temperatures above the Tg. They have been able to deliver these properties since the CF3D® printed composites demonstrated Fiber Volume Fractions (FVF) greater than 50% with less than 1.5% void content.
“The deployment of CF3D® for manufacturing generator components is one example where our technology is disrupting current manufacturing processes and replacing metallic parts with high-performance composite materials,” says Tyler Alvarado, CEO of Continuous Composites. “Our collaboration with Siemens Energy demonstrates our ability to develop and customize material solutions with stringent mechanical property requirements which go well beyond the Energy sector.”
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