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What’s AFT, and How Does it Cut the Weight & Costs of Sport Components?

Carbon composites are playing a crucial role in supporting high-performances in many sports. However, these materials still come with development and manufacturing challenges which limit their usage in broader applications. Learn how the Additive Fusion Technology (AFT) opens up completely new options for sport components with a combination of highest technical performances and aesthetics.

The Benefits of Shifting to Continuous Fiber Composites for Sport Components

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Metal substitution for weight reduction

Wood has had and still has a very strong relationship with sports, including skis, watersports, wheels… Among its benefits, wood is both natural and usually locally sourced while offering very-high performances in harsh environments. Another beneficial property is that wood is anisotropic, meaning its properties vary in different directions (e.g., it is stronger along the grain than across it).

While wood is still used in modern sport components, many other materials have since made their appearance, including metals, polymers, and composites. As in other fields, the racing segment provides glimpses of how parts can be made.

Currently, most of the small size and complex geometry parts in sports are still made out of metals (steel, aluminium, titanium).

The interesting intersection between advanced composites and fiber-reinforced additive manufacturing (AM) provides new opportunities for carbon fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP) to enter market segments where these desirable, high performance materials traditionally were considered too slow, too costly, or technically infeasible.

Largely, this is because composite AM addresses many of the challenges that have plagued advanced composites for decades, specifically slow and labor-intensive processing (often with high scrap rates), high capital expenditure (capex) for equipment, high material costs, design limitations (particularly with continuous-fiber materials) that make it difficult to produce small, intricate parts accurately and repeatedly, and high cost of quality assurance (QA)/traceability in highly regulated markets. This is especially true with smaller parts produced at lower- to mid production volumes.

Higher Efficiency, Less Waste

Versus conventional/subtractive manufacturing, AFT reduces material usage and scrap due to unmatched design freedom, more precise fibre-layout control, and the ability to print net-shape parts. Highly efficient designs using the least material at the lowest mass reduce environmental impacts during a part’s use life—especially when composites replace metals and where thermoplastic matrices permit recycling of scrap and end-of-life parts. Printing itself is energy efficient. Printed preform functionality is further increased and secondary operations eliminated when hardware is insert molded or preforms are injection/compression overmolded with neat polymer or composites. Unique surfaces can be created, eliminating paint.

Cycling components

Discover how the Additive Fusion Technology (AFT) allows you to produce cycling components out of carbon fiber composites in small to high volumes with competitive costs vs. aluminium.

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