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3D printing of CARBON fiber

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3D printing with carbon fiber can produce parts that are strong, stiff and lightweight. However, not all carbon fiber 3D printing methods are the same.

Chopped & continuous carbon fiber

In additive manufacturing, there are two main ways to use carbon fiber for 3D printing: printing with continuous fiber and chopped fiber. The resulting parts are very different in properties. The added fiber serves as a booster for plastics enhancing their physical and mechanical parameters. Both types of reinforcement have their own characteristics, application areas, and technologies associated with them.

Both methods have their advantages depending on the desired outcome and budget. Continuous carbon fiber printing can produce parts that are comparable to metal in performance, but at a fraction of the weight and cost. Chopped carbon PA12 printing can produce parts that are more durable and rigid than standard thermoplastics, but at a lower cost than continuous carbon fiber printing.

1) Printing of carbon chopped PA12

Printing with PA12 chopped carbon means that short, chopped pieces of carbon fiber are mixed with nylon 12 filament. This creates parts that have a good surface finish, higher wear resistance and a lower cost per volume of material. The main difference between chopped and continuous fibers is that composites filled with chopped fibers do not give a tangible increase in strength. We can only optimize or significantly improve the stiffness. However, 3D printing of chopped fiber does not require any specific technology.

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2) Printing of continuous fiber CFC

In contrast to chopped, there exists the CFC method to reinforce plastics with continuous carbon fiber. Printing with continuous carbon fiber means that long, continuous strands of carbon fiber are mixed with thermoplastic base material during the 3D printing process. This creates parts that have incomparable stiffness and strength-to-weight ratio over standard thermoplastics. Continuous carbon fiber parts can also withstand high temperatures and pressures, making them suitable for aerospace, aeronautic and high-end industrial applications. On the other hand, long fiber printing requires the use of dedicated technology, such as CFC.

Coextrusion of Fibre Composite

A2 Composites has specialized in the 3D printing of industrial-grade technical parts using simultaneously the both methods of thermoplastic reinforcing with carbon fiber.

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