Stratasys, one of the leading 3D printing companies in the world announced that it has started shipping its affordably priced additive manufacturing system – Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition – dedicated to meet the growing use of carbon-fiber-filled Nylon 12.
Stratasys was also one of the first to offer a carbon fiber filled composite for additive but at high-end cost that ranged between $200K-$350K. However, considering the growing demand, the company now ships its Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition at an affordable price of $70,000 in the US.
The move to offer an affordable industrial 3D printer for carbon fiber applications comes in the light of the growing use of composite material. For example, the use of composite material has seen a year-on-year market growth of 8-12%. The reason for such a growth is that the carbon fiber composite applications carbon fiber reinforced polymers are considered clean energy technologies by the U.S Department of Energy.
Offering details about the need to offer affordable industrial 3D printers, Pat Carey, Senior Vice President of Sales at Stratasys said, “Our customers are pushing us for easier access to carbon fiber. They’ve told us they want an affordable solution but in a reliable, industrial-quality system. So we’re now offering a more accessible system that’s based on our Fortus 380mc platform. Because the 380mc CFE is dedicated only to carbon-fiber-filled Nylon 12 and one other material, we’re able to currently offer it at the lowest price for any of our industrial printers.”
“For many years, the additive manufacturing industry has seen a need for a diversity of machines that produce parts in high-strength composite materials,” says Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, an additive manufacturing industry consultancy. “I’m hopeful the newest machine from Stratasys will help to meet this need by offering strong parts in carbon fiber and Nylon 12,” added Carey.
Several of the high profile users of the carbon-fiber-filled Nylon 12 composite material includes the American professional stock car, open wheel and sports car racing team – Team Penske which uses Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) to produce prototypes and final parts from carbon-fiber-filled Nylon 12 composite materials.
The team recently used the composite to produce a mirror housing for its NASCAR race teams. The carbon-fiber-based material enabled Team Penske to produce lightweight mirror housings with high impact resistance and high stiffness. Each of these features is critical in motorsports. The composite’s stiffness is especially beneficial when making thin-walled parts, so the parts won’t flex under the aerodynamic loads produced on track.
The Fortus 380mc CFE is based on a proven platform that produces parts with repeatable dimensional accuracy. Parts don’t exhibit appreciable warpage or shrinkage and will hold to a tight tolerance. Stratasys Nylon 12CF is up to four times stronger than a competitively priced alternative in the X and Y axis, and it will maintain its mechanical properties at a 40 percent higher temperature. The Fortus 380mc CFE is between two and five times faster than the competitively priced carbon-fiber-based 3D printer.
The Fortus 380mc CFE builds parts in 0.010 in. (0.254 mm) layer thickness. The system is also compatible with ASA thermoplastic, for which is can build in either 0.010 or .005 in. (0.127 mm) layer thicknesses. The 3D printer’s build chamber measures 14 x 12 x 12 in. (355 x 305 x 305 mm).
The unique feature of this 3D printer is that it offers water-soluble support material removal. This feature helps eliminates the need for manual labor to remove the supports. This in turn allows the creation of fine and intricate geometries, which wouldn’t be possible without the soluble support material, because the fine features could be destroyed during cleaning, or intricate geometries might be too laborious or impossible to remove the support material.
It is not just motorsports, Stratasys expects the quickest adopters of its Fortus 380mc CFE 3D Printer to be those making tooling and fixtures and those in industries that include Automotive; Aerospace; Defence; Medical Equipment; Recreational Sporting Equipment; Marine; Orthosis and Prosthesis; Oil & Gas.
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