After a Century of Forging, Machining Metals, Setforge Teams with 9T Labs to Produce Strong, High-Volume Carbon Composite Parts to Replace Metals

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L’Horme, France — For over a century, Setforge Group has been forging and machining high-volume, precision metal components for demanding industries like automotive and aerospace. However, to maintain leadership and adapt to changing times, the company has invested in technology that will enable it to design and produce high-performance carbon fiber-reinforced composite parts rapidly and cost effectively in order to replace steel, aluminum, and titanium at significantly lower mass. To facilitate the expansion into advanced composites, Setforge was an early partner with hybrid manufacturing solution OEM 9T Labs AG (Zürich, Switzerland) and now starts screening for new serial part applications to be produced on its Red Series ® Additive Fusion SolutionTM platform located in l’Hormes, France.

“We chose their Red Series Additive Fusion Solution platform, which is an all-in-one solution combining software, hardware, and support. The Fibrify software enables us to design the parts with fibre that we can place only where needed. And it’s directly linked with commercially available structural simulation software. The combination of additive manufacturing and molding is unique. We can offer structural parts that are reproducible and also cost competitive. 9T Labs’ expertise in composites helps us to identify the right application and to design load-tailored parts easily. We can even place metal inserts, if needed, before we densify the fibres and reduce porosity. We end up with finished, net-shape parts with high fibre ratios and low porosity that carry four-times higher specific load than steel.”, explains Damien Felix, R&D Project Manager at Setforge.

“You may ask ‘What is the market usefulness of parts that can be produced near-net shape, with a unique weight to performance ratio due to carbon fibres, and with higher mechanical performance than from other high-speed carbon fibre processes?’” muses Didier Henry, Director of Setforge. “The answer is any market dominated by aluminium and titanium, or everywhere massive (strong) and lightweight parts are valuable. These parts will even be of interest to replace other composite parts that have to be improved, lightened, and made stronger.”

“We are proud to support a venerable yet innovative company like Setforge as they begin manufacturing carbon composite parts,” adds Giovanni Cavolina, 9T Labs co-founder and chief commercial officer. “We started 9T Labs with a passion to mass-produce high-performance composites as easily as metals. We have found Setforge to be just as passionate about disruptive manufacturing of high-performance parts.”

As it sets up its first carbon composite additive manufacturing production capability from 9T Labs, Setforge will be able to produce up to 5,000 carbon composite parts per year in sizes up to 350mm x 270mm x 250mm. As capacity ramps up in 2023 and beyond, Setforge expects to be able to produce 100,000 parts/year and to extend part dimensions.

“With the Red Series, we want to propose to replace metal parts with composites for our current markets like automotive or aerospace, but we also want to propose innovative solutions for new markets to us — for example, luxury, sports, medical, exoskelet {wearable ergonomic lift-assist systems), and drones,” concludes Damien Felix.

9T Labs’ hybrid advanced manufacturing technology enables high-performance structural parts — in challenging small-to-medium size and thick sections — to be produced in carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites in production volumes ranging from 100 to 10,000 parts/year. By combining 3D printing (which offers unexcelled design freedom, part complexity, and control of fiber orientation) with compression molding in matched metal dies (providing rapid cycle times, high production rates, excellent surface finishes with low voids, plus high repeatability and reproducibility (R&R)), the hybrid production system offers the best of both additive and conventional / subtractive manufacturing.

The company’s patented Red Series Additive Fusion Solution platform consists of a Build Module (3D printer providing fiber layup and preform production) and a Fusion Module (compact compression press providing preform consolidation and final part forming). The hardware is supported by 9T Labs’ Fibrify ® design suite. This software allows CAD files to be imported, part design and fiber layups optimized, then moved 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 meet performance and cost targets. In turn, this helps manufacturers bring parts to market faster and at lower cost.

Together, the system can rapidly, efficiently, consistently, and cost-effectively produce structural parts with heretofore 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), polyphenylenesulfide (PPS), polyetherketoneketone (PEKK), and Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) — lightweight, structural composite parts capable of replacing metals in challenging environments can be produced affordably with very-low waste, an excellent buy-to-fly ratio, and high levels of R&R. Since the thermoplastic matrices may be melt reprocessed, scrap material and parts can be recycled, and multiple 3D-printed subassemblies can be welded together during the Fusion step.

About Setforge Group

With over 100 years of experience and a strategic partner to many of the world’s largest OEMs, Setforge, a subsidiary of Farinia Group, is one of the leading global suppliers of high-quality precision metal components in a variety of production volumes. With specialized metalworking knowledge and a multidisciplinary approach to the market, Setforge applies advanced technologies and equipment to offer its customers the highest quality services in forging, machining, heat treatment, new materials development, and engineering. To maintain its leadership position, Setforge participates in R&D projects and collaborations to deliver highly resistant and weight-optimized solutions for the next generation of manufacturing.

About 9T Labs AG

9T Labs is an ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland) spinoff that was founded in 2018 by Chester Houwink, Giovanni Cavolina, and Martin Eichenhofer to leverage automation technology, software, and materials to make high-performance structural parts more accessible. The company’s patented Red Series Additive Fusion Solution technology — a hybrid of 3D printing and compression molding that is used to produce high-performance structural composite parts — is targeted at industries such as aerospace/aviation, automotive/motorsports and ground transportation, medical device, industrial/robotics/machinery, consumer luxury goods, and sporting goods. Learn more at

® Red Series and Fibrify are registered trademarks of 9T Labs AG.

™ Additive Fusion Solution is a trademark of 9T Labs AG.