When it comes to 3D printing, ETH is one of the most industrious universities. Aside form their work with new 3D printing tech, they also have tons of spin-off companies that are doing great work in the field. Take for example 9T labs, who have developed a carbon-fiber reinforced plastic printer. CFRP is stronger than steel but also 5 times lighter, so it’s a very crucial material for many industries.
Carbon-fiber composites are generally very expensive, though, due to the need for a separate mold or negative. These molds are crucial for the creation of every single CFRP component. Aside from the cost they also incur massive time wastage.
The new printer doesn’t use molds but instead opts to print directly by mixing the Plastic and carbon fibers in the printer. The materials go through the heated nozzle and mingle together in proportion. “We combine the advantages of 3D printing technology with the valuable properties of carbon fiber composites,” says Giovanni Cavolina, one of the founders of 9T Labs.
The new technology allows for the printing of components with highly complex geometric shapes. This is helpful in the construction of satellite antennae or hand prosthetics. The team also says that it reduces material waste.
Currently the team is brushing up their working prototype. They should begin beta testing at the start of next year. Following this, the company already has plans as to how they wish the tech to proliferate further. They initially want universities and R and D affiliates to possess the technology. They want technical feedback from technical institutions such as these to further improve their printers.
While the company is still operating out of the ETH premises, they hope to scale up and move out soon. New staff will be joining them as they expand with four new members set to join by the end of the year. They are fine-tuning it for market specification as of now. The company is confident that there is a place for CFRP printing in several industries and know of multiple enthusiastic parties that are eagerly awaiting it.
Featured image courtesy of 9T Labs, retrieved via controlled environments mag.