Carbon Fiber is a premium composite 3D printing material that has impressive mechanical and thermal properties. These physical properties combined with the increased design freedom that 3D printing offers makes carbon fiber an excellent choice for many functional and end-use applications. We have broken down the 5 most important reasons that you should be using carbon fiber 3D printed parts from a carbon fiber 3D printing service.
1) Strength-to-Weight Ratio Comparable to Metal
Composite parts are being used increasingly more frequently by many aerospace and automobile companies due to their high strength and low density when compared to metal. 3D printed carbon fiber is a mixture of high-performance thermoplastic material, such as nylon, reinforced with chopped carbon fibers for enhanced mechanical properties. 3D printed carbon fiber can achieve a tensile strength of over 100 MPa making it a great fit for applications requiring high strength and stiffness. In conjunction with its high tensile strength, the density of 3D printed carbon fiber is just 1.17 grams/cubic centimeter. In contrast, the density of a 6061 aluminum is 2.7 grams/ cubic centimeter, more than double the weight of carbon fiber.
2) High Heat Resistance
In addition to carbon fiber’s great mechanical properties, it also provides excellent thermal properties. 3D printed carbon fiber has a heat deflection temperature of over 300 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the perfect material candidate for applications where strength, weight, and heat resistance are key performance indicators.
3) Cut Manufacturing Costs
Like all 3D printing materials, carbon fiber requires no tooling, meaning there are less fixed costs that must be distributed and passed on to the final purchase cost of each production unit. With the increase in design freedom that 3D printing offers, large assemblies with many components can be consolidated into fewer parts. Fewer parts in a product means less design work, less supplier contracting, and less assembly, dramatically reducing the lifecycle cost of a product.
Additionally, software tools unique to the design for additive manufacturing workflow, such as topology optimization and generative design enable the creation of designs that optimize the amount of material in a product depending on its load requirements. Material is added where needed and not added in areas that experience small load forces. This means that material costs will decrease, and the weight of the carbon fiber 3D printed part will also decrease, further eliminating cost.
4) Faster Lead Times
Manufacturing with a carbon fiber 3D printing service will help accelerate time to market with rapid prototyping. There is no lead time incurred for tooling and minimal, if any assembly and setup time. A CAD design system can be fully integrated with the 3D printer to reduce setup time. Faster prototyping lead times allow for more prototypes to be made and tested, reducing risk in the new product development process. From proof-of-principle prototypes to fully-functional prototypes, carbon fiber 3D printing can produce fast and highly accurate products. Carbon fiber’s high-performance characteristics enable it to be used for end-use parts as well as prototypes. This bridges the divide between new product development and product launch and commercialization. Rather than prototyping with 3D printed carbon fiber and switching over to a different fabrication method for production and running into unforeseen delays, a carbon fiber 3D printing service can be used both for prototypes and end-use production parts as you scale up your production volumes. This enables a seamless transition between development and production.
5) Better Supply Chain Efficiency
Conventional fabrication methods typically require the production of high-volumes of products all at once to amortize the fixed costs of tooling and setup into the thousands of units. This creates large amounts of inventory that tie up cash. On-demand manufacturing with a carbon fiber 3D printing service will decrease your inventory costs and allow you to run a leaner operation. Products can be made exactly when the customer needs them, providing fast customer service, while lowering supply chain costs.
Rather than having many suppliers and supplier contracts, part consolidation with 3D printing can reduce supply chain complexity and provide customers with fast high-quality products.
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