Swiss Machinery OEM’s Hybrid 3D Printing Technology for Structural Composite Parts Recognized as Clean, Efficient, Profitable Solution for Planet
Zürich, Switzerland — 9T Labs AG, here, has just received the "Solar Impulse EfficientSolutions" label on the company’s Red Series® Additive Fusion Solution, a technology thatpermits the rapid, affordable, and repeatable production of carbon fiber-reinforced structuralcomposite parts via a hybrid manufacturing process that combines 3D printing andcompression molding. The label was developed by the Solar Impulse Foundation (Lausanne,Switzerland), an environmental non-profit dedicated to accelerating the implementation ofclean and profitable technology making a positive impact on the environment and humanquality of life. The Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions label has been awarded to 1,000+products/technologies globally following evaluation of nominations by an external panel ofindependent experts and renown institutes said to have applied a neutral judging metricbased on verified standards.
The Solar Impulse Foundation was co-founded by Bertrand Piccard and Andre’ Borschberg in2003 in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Lausanne). The groupis best known for sponsoring the first flight powered entirely by solar energy usingexperimental, long-range aircraft that successfully completed a round-the-world trip in 2016.That same year the Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions program was announced with theintention of identifying 1,000 or more clean and profitable solutions from business startupsthat address environmental challenges without compromising economic growth. The hope isthat by providing those economically viable green startups with visibility, they will attract thepolitical and economic decision makers to help speed adoption of ambitious energy andenvironmental programs and achieve carbon neutrality.
9T Labs’ technology enables high-performance structural parts — in challengingsmall-to-medium size and thick sections — to be produced in carbon fiber-reinforcedthermoplastic composites in production volumes ranging from 100 to 10,000 parts/year. Bycombining 3D printing (which offers unexcelled design freedom, part complexity, and controlof fiber orientation) with compression molding in matched metal dies (providing rapid cycletimes, high production rates, excellent surface finishes with low voids, plus high repeatabilityand reproducibility (R&R)), the hybrid production system offers the best of both additive andconventional / subtractive manufacturing.
The patented Red Series Additive Fusion Solution platform consists of a Build Module (3Dprinter providing fiber layup and preform production) and a Fusion Module (compactcompression press providing preform consolidation and final part forming). Together, thesystem can rapidly, efficiently, consistently, and cost-effectively produce structural parts withheretofore unmatched levels of complexity in advanced (carbon fiber-reinforced)thermoplastic composites for initial prototyping through to high-volume manufacturing.Thanks to the use of proven industry-standard materials — in high performance neat(unreinforced) and carbon fiber-reinforced polyamide 12 (PA12) and polyetherketoneketone(PEKK) — lightweight, structural composite parts capable of replacing metals in challengingenvironments can be produced affordably with very-low waste, an excellent buy-to-fly ratio,and high levels of R&R. Since the thermoplastic matrices are melt reprocessed, scrapmaterial and parts can be recycled, and multiple 3D-printed subassemblies can be weldedtogether during the Fusion step. The technology is supported by 9T Labs’ Fibrify® designsuite, which allows CAD files to be imported, part design and fiber layups optimized, thenmoved into major commercial structural analysis programs to verify structural performance.This eliminates the costly and time-consuming “make & break” cycle of designing parts,producing and testing prototypes, and further modifying designs to more closely meetperformance and cost targets. In turn, this helps manufacturers bring parts to market fasterand at lower cost.
9T Labs is an ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland) spinoffthat was founded in 2018 by Chester Houwink, Giovanni Cavolina, and Martin Eichenhofer toleverage automation technology, software, and materials to make high-performancestructural parts more accessible. The company’s patented Red Series Additive FusionSolution technology, a hybrid of 3D printing and compression molding that is used toproduce high-performance structural composite parts, is targeted at industries such asaerospace/aviation, automotive/motorsports and ground transportation, medical device,industrial/robotics/machinery, consumer luxury goods, and sporting goods.
® Red Series and Fibrify are registered trademarks of 9T Labs AG.