Arkema working to combine 3D printing with composites

November 29, 2019 - France

Arkema is making new partnerships to expand the use of its high-performance solutions to 3D manufacturing of composite materials. The new technology, which combines the power of 3D printing and composite materials, will be of use in the aeronautics, automotive, energy and construction sectors to meet the growing demand for lightweight materials.

Arkema, leader in high-performance polymers for 3D printing and composites, is focusing on additive manufacturing and innovative new solutions for manufacturing continuous fibre composite parts using 3D printing, a technology that brings together 3D printing and composites.

The group is therefore joining hands with new partners to develop novel, more efficient materials that offer fresh perspectives in applications with high technical requirements to meet the growing demand for lightweight materials.

Continuous Composites and Sartomer, an Arkema Business Line, recently announced a partnership combining Continuous Composites’ patented continuous fibre 3D printing technology (CF3D) with Sartomer’s N3xtDimension UV-curable resin solutions. This technology combines the power of composite materials with a snap-curing 3D printing process to create a mold-free and out-of-autoclave composite manufacturing technology. CF3D significantly reduces the cost of manufacturing with lightweight materials offering users greater flexibility and speed of production compared to traditional composite processes. Through this joint development agreement, Sartomer is investing in R and D and commercialisation of resin solutions tailored for CF3D meeting the mechanical properties of varying industries.

Arkema has partnered with 9T Labs (Zurich), a start-up specialising in the 3D printing of thermoplastic composites that has developed a technology that automates the manufacture of composites using additive manufacturing (AM) and advanced software algorithms. This technology will enable the mass production of composite parts using Arkema’s Kepstan Pekk: the exceptional properties of the Kepstan Pekk polymer together with the 9T Labs design software facilitate the manufacture of high-performance parts. Arkema and 9T Labs will jointly develop the market, focusing on high-volume mass-production applications and material certification in order to accelerate large-scale adoption of the technology.

With these partnerships, the group will continue to innovate, in collaboration with its customers and technology partners such as Continuous Composites and 9T Labs, to convert new applications to 3D printing and accelerate the deployment of these technologies in a wide range of industries and applications.

These projects form part of the group’s strategy of proposing innovative solutions for lightening structural materials, one of its six innovation platforms, thanks to composites and 3D printing.