Despite the cancellation of some events in response to Coronavirus pandemic, some companies could not properly introduce their new product(s) and/or service(s).
Nevertheless, another company that decided to stick to its plans, is 9T Labs, a Switzerland-based startup whose mission is to automate and digitize composite manufacturing at scale. Founded in 2018, this team masters the complexities of anisotropic materials and is well aware of the manual process in manufacturing carbon composites.
With that in mind, they have developed the Red Series™, an all-in-one solution that includes an advanced software, an additive manufacturing equipment, as well as an engineering service.
The ultimate goal of this manufacturing solution is to enable manufacturers to achieve the right applications with composite materials & AM.
To achieve this goal, the team of innovators answered a single question: “What does it take to make load carrying fiber composite structure more accessible?”
Although their properties make them a very attractive material, it should be noted that, according to the company, “the comparably high costs associated with carbon fiber composite parts to its aluminium or steel contenders, remain a constraining factor”.
Taking advantage of digital tools and anisotropic materials
First, the production of a composite part begins with a technical textile that integrates a constant fiber-volume content. For this reason, the engineer will not be able to optimally leverage the design freedom that AM allows, which results in less efficiency in several applications. As a matter of fact, the company observes negative impacts on both environmental footprint and cost structure.
To overcome that, the solution lies in allocating the fibers only exactly where needed.
“Currently, we focus on two polymers, PA12 and PEKK. To ensure the highest consistency of the fiber material, we supply CF/PA12 and CF/PEKK filaments that are used to build the part.
While the material is key for the processability and the end function of the parts, the software component of the whole value chain plays a crucial role to enable the optimal part design” said the company on its website.
Furthermore, FEA simulation tools such as fibrify™ Design Suite and ANSYS’ Composite PrepPost (ACP) enable to bring out optimal fiber designs, not to mention that the user can easily connect to 9T Labs’ equipment, start production and monitor the process via the fibrify™ Production tool.
As far as 3D printers are concerned, FDM/FFF-based technologies remain the ideal candidate to achieve continuous fiber reinforced structures. However, at the post-processing stage, operators will have to apply pressure and temperature in 9T Labs’ fusion module. According to the company, the solution would have proven its efficiency when working with thermoplastic materials.
The Switzerland-based team seems to have thought of every major angle of composite materials production. Today, this manufacturing solution is available on subscription basis. We can’t wait to see what applications operators will explore with this all-in-one solution.
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