Polymer directed energy deposition (DED)
AREVO, based in Silicon Valley, California, developed technology to enable direct digital additive manufacturing of ultra-strong, lightweight composite parts for end use applications in high volume. It falls into the category of Directed Energy Deposition (DED).
DED is best known for metal feedstock, which can be a powder or wire, that is fed into the path of a laser or electron beam to be fused by melting as the material is deposited. The wire process results in high throughput rates, but like all metal processes, it requires a controlled environment; in this case a shielding gas.
Polymer DED, however, uses a “wire” or filament of carbon fiber impregnated with a thermoplastic polymer matrix. It does not require a controlled environment. It is capable of processing carbon fiber volume contents of 50% and more and incorporates advanced modeling and software capabilities. A full study of mechanical properties of these composites was conducted, which provided valuable input and validation for the simulation, and enabled the reliable structure design and optimization with the software.