Carbon Fiber: The Strongest 3D Printing Material

Manufacturing with High Strength 3D Printing Materials

Many functional applications require components with high strength, stiffness and heat resistance. Although 3D printing materials differ greatly in their mechanical and thermal properties, carbon fiber reinforced filament provides superior strength, toughness and heat resistance to standard thermoplastic materials such as ABS. The combination of high performing thermoplastics with carbon fibers is what makes carbon fiber reinforced filament the strongest 3D printing material. It combines high tensile strength with a low density to create a material with a strength-to-weight ratio comparable to that of metal. With carbon fiber, all the advantages of 3D printing can be combined with a truly high-performance composite material to build high-quality products.

What is 3D Printed Carbon Fiber?

3D printed carbon fiber refers to a class of high strength 3D printing materials whereby carbon fibers are chopped into particles and combined with high performance thermoplastics to further enhance the mechanical and thermal properties of the material for demanding functional applications. These thermoplastic materials include nylon, ABS, PETG, PEEK, and many others. This composite 3D printing material can then be used for a variety of functional applications where high performance is required. The resulting strength-to-weight ratio from this combination of materials rivals that of metal components, while being more cost efficient.

Why Use 3D Printed Carbon Fiber?

Strength and stiffness are two of the defining characteristics of carbon fiber. It is resistant to bending, but still offers excellent durability and impact strength for applications requiring repeated blows. In contrast to other conventional fabrication methods, 3D printing with carbon fiber requires no tooling and the manufacturing process is completely automated. This provides tremendous cost savings and opportunities for mass customization of products built in the strongest 3D printing material. The lack of tooling provides many opportunities to experiment with multiple iterations of functional prototypes while quickly and easily revising and re-printing new products.

Additionally, 3D printed carbon fiber can be used to produce parts with high geometric complexity. This is useful if a unique shape is desired to consolidate components to achieve cost savings in material, design, procurement, and assembly. The combination of the strongest 3D printing material with design freedom and cost efficiencies opens a wide range of possibilities for applications requiring high strength, stiffness, and heat resistance.

Carbon Fiber Applications

Functional prototypes, end use production parts, and tooling are all great applications of carbon fiber. Prototypes can be made quickly and cost efficiently to improve the new product development cycle. Once the design is validated through the functional prototype, small batch manufacturing and bridge production are excellent ways to incorporate the strongest 3D printing material to efficiently create high-performance end-use products. Tooling fixtures and jigs are also perfect applications for carbon fiber. Composite tooling can quickly and cheaply be designed, printed and implemented in the manufacturing work flow.

Because of its excellent mechanical and physical properties, carbon fiber is used in many industries including the aerospace, automotive, and consumer products industries. Whether it be for prototyping, end-use parts, tooling or all three, carbon fiber provides a great deal of value to companies looking for the strongest 3D printing material to perform in their products.

How Much Do Carbon Fiber Parts Costs?

The cost of 3D printed carbon fiber parts is dependent upon the amount of material used and the amount of post-processing required. The design freedom afforded by 3D printing allows designers to optimize the topology of the products and apply more material in areas with higher loads and less material in low stress areas; minimizing the overall amount of material needed to build the part. Post processing includes removal and cleanup of support material, sanding, coating, and painting. Each of these operations will vary based on the design of the part, which is why it is critical to ensure that the product design is optimized for 3D printing to reduce the amount of post-processing and material costs. Designing for 3D printing can ensure that that the amount of material and post-processing is optimized to yield low-cost parts. Get an instant quote for your carbon fiber products!

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