Additive Manufacturing of Continuous Fiber Reinforced Thermoset Composite

B. Shi, Y. Shang, T-W Chou, K. Fu
University of Delaware,
United States

Keywords: 3D printing, composite, thermosetting polymer, continuous carbon fiber

Summary:

Additive manufacturing (AM) of lightweight and energy-efficient composite using continuous fibers to reinforce thermoset polymers is highly desirable in many applications, such as aerospace, vehicles, and constructions. However, the material, architectural, and technical limitations make existing AM technologies unavailable for printing structural and functional thermoset/continuous carbon fiber composite. In this report, we overcome these difficulties and introduced a new AM technology by creating a controllable and dynamic processing window to enable curing of liquid thermoset polymer in continuous carbon fiber structure, realizing a feasible 3D printing of thermoset/continuous carbon fiber composite with near net shape, complex geometry, and programmable performance. Our process enables us to print composite with overhanding structure in free space, without need for support material. This AM technology provides a new 3D printing concept and process knowledge beyond existing AM technologies to potentially enable high throughput processing and geometric complexity of printed composite, and has been demonstrated to be applicable to a wide range of fiber materials, including carbon fibers, carbon nanostructured-fibers, aramid fibers, and glass fibers, and could promisingly produce a transformative impact on the upgrade of additive manufacturing for many applications.