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Direct Manufacture of Continuous Fiber Reinforced Composites

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Direct Manufacture of Continuous Fiber Reinforced Composites Through a Combination of Fiber Placement and 3D Printing


Current methods of preparing laminated composites using continuous fiber reinforcement often suffer from the need for costly tooling, time-intensive pre and post processing procedures and a limited ability to vary design parameters within a product cycle.  Automated fiber placement systems have shown an ability to overcome certain limitations evident in laminate based composite processing methods; however, the need for tooling remains unchanged.  With current developments in the additive manufacturing sector reaching a relative state of apogee, continuous fiber reinforced materials produced via direct or additive manufacturing techniques seem a next logical step.  The work discussed focuses on the creation of tailorable composite articles with significantly reduced tooling requirements via the combination of polymer melt extrusion and automated fiber placement onto a nominally flat substrate.  A dual gantry 3-axis manufacturing system has been developed and is utilized to demonstrate the construction of composite articles of complex geometry with continuous reinforcing fiber/thermoplastic polymer matrix placement in the X-Y plane as well as material placement through the continuum of X-Z and Y-Z.  Complex placement throughout the three dimensional continuum is performed using fiber paths generated with modified G-code.  Placement in the three dimensional continuum demonstrates an ability to process fiber reinforced structures of complex geometry, incorporating fibers both in-plane and out-of-plane, on planar tooling surfaces rather than on tooling that defines all surfaces.  Additive manufacture inspired development of continuous fiber reinforced structures of complex geometry, without net-shape tooling, targets the manufacture of composite articles not feasible with current automated composites manufacture.  Advantages of this processing method for continuous fiber reinforced composites include, but are not limited to, tailorable composite creation, out-of-plane fiber placement and variability of in-cycle design parameters without the need for finite hardtooling.  The paper describes preliminary composite development with this approach


Authors: Patrick A. Rodriguez, Mark E. Bourgeois and Donald W. Radford


Conference: CAMX 2016 – Anaheim


SKU/Code: TP16-0080


Pages: 13

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