Researchers from CEAD, GKN Aerospace Deutschland, and the Technical University of Munich have developed a new printhead for Advanced Tape Layer Additive Manufacturing (ATLAM).
This printhead combines continuous fiber-reinforced composite tape laying with large format additive manufacturing, providing low-cost composite tools for aerospace applications. By integrating continuous carbon fiber tapes in the extrusion-based 3D printing process, the final tools achieve a lower coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) compared to tools printed using only short fiber reinforcement, which is essential in the aerospace industry to comply with the tight tolerances required.
ATLAM offers versatility by allowing the independent control of the extrusion nozzle and tape outlet. This enables the adjustment of material properties through the use of different tape reinforcement types, widths, and thermoplastic matrices. It can process high-temperature polymers and a variety of fibers, allowing for tailored properties per application.
The project, which is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy, and Technology is expected to lead to more significant advances in large-scale 3D printing. In particular, ongoing research by TUM, CEAD, and GKN Munich will improve the 3D printing process and material options.
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