Desktop Metal announces the launch of Fiber, a desktop 3D printer that fabricates high-resolution parts with industrial-grade continuous fiber composite materials used in automated fiber placement (AFP) processes.
Based on a new process called micro automated fiber placement (μAFP), users can now print parts with a superior level of strength and stiffness, and in a broad range of materials, that traditionally required million-dollar AFP systems.
This platform produces parts using materials that are two times stronger than steel at one-fifth the weight. Fiber printers feature one of the largest build envelopes of any continuous fiber desktop printer and are designed to be arranged in print farm configurations of 6 or 10 printers.
“For the first time, Fiber printers combine the material properties of high performance AFP continuous fiber materials with the affordability and speed of a desktop 3D printer,” said Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal.
The Fiber printer is the first continuous fiber desktop printer to miniaturize AFP technology, typically found in the highest end carbon fiber production processes, and combine it with Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). The printer uses a robotic tool changer architecture for future expandability and can store up to four tools, including additional FFF heads for different materials or future enhancements such as automated in-process inspection.
The Fiber print platform is available in two models through a subscription service:
● Fiber HT produces parts with continuous composites having <1% porosity and up to 60% continuous fiber loading with advanced matrix, including PEEK and PEKK. It can make flame retardant parts that withstand high temperatures up to 250 degrees Celsius, in addition to ESD compliant parts. Fiber HT starts at $5,495 per year.
● Fiber LT produces high strength, ESD compliant, non-marring parts using continuous fiber with <5% porosity with PA6 thermoplastics. Fiber LT starts at $3,495 per year.
● Fiber printers are available in a hardware-as-a-service subscription plan that allows customers to have the latest technology at an affordable price, without risking technology obsolescence. Minimum subscription term is three years and includes comprehensive support.
With one of the largest build volumes offered in a continuous fiber 3D desktop printer (310 x 240 x 270 millimeters), both Fiber HT and Fiber LT combine the benefits of 3D printing with continuous fiber materials that are qualified for high-performance applications.
● Stiffer, stronger parts: Parts printed on Fiber feature targeted continuous fiber reinforcement along critical load paths to build a fully dense fiber core with exceptionally low porosity (<1% porosity with PEEK and PEKK, and less than five percent with PA6). Featuring 12k tows, up to 60 percent fiber volume fraction, and multi-directional reinforcement with user-defined tow placement, the resulting parts are up to 60 times stiffer and 75 times stronger than ABS plastic parts.
● Extensive continuous composites material library, including high-temperature thermoplastics: Fiber offers engineers a large selection of composite materials for a desktop printer, starting with a chopped carbon fiber-filled Nylon (PA6) that is ESD- compliant, and a chopped fiberglass filled Nylon (PA6). The materials library also includes chopped carbon fiber-filled PEEK and PEKK filaments that provide excellent mechanical properties and chemical resistance, and yield parts that can withstand continuous operation in high temperatures relative to other thermoplastics. Each of these materials can be reinforced with continuous carbon or glass fiber. This wide portfolio of materials is designed for versatility to support a broad set of industrial applications.
Composite parts can be indispensable for manufacturers during the early design stages of prototyping as well as for critical end-use parts that require high stiffness and fast lead-times over machined counterparts. Key applications, which benefit a wide variety of industries, from manufacturing, tooling and automotive to consumer electronics, sporting goods, medical, education/research and marine, include:
Jigs and fixtures, including robotic end effectors, CNC soft jaws, laser etching fixtures for medical tools, ESD and fixtures for manufacturing;
● End-use parts, including automotive, electronics, consumer goods such as racing bicycles, marine, aviation and machine design; and
● Components where lightweighting is critical for performance, such as wheelchairs and sports racing equipment.
With Desktop Metal’s new AM technology, engineers will be able to print industrial quality, continuous fiber-reinforced composite structures. This technology prints continuous fiber reinforcement with high fiber volumes and high Z-axis strength.
These benefits are combined with high-resolution printing and beautiful surface finishes that give users flexibility in how they can cost-effectively design and manufacture high-performance composite structures.
Fiber printers are available to order at www.desktopmetal.com/fiber, as well as through the company’s reseller network. Printers are scheduled to ship in Spring 2020. To learn more about Fiber, visit www.desktopmetal.com.