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16th May 2017, Northbrook, IL

3D printing with carbon, Kevlar and glass

Impossible Objects, based in Northbrook, Illinois, believes its new Model One 3D printer could be a step-change for the composites industry by allowing strong parts to be made from a broader selection of materials than current 3D printers – including carbon fibre, Kevlar and glass – at a faster rate than traditional composite methods and with more design freedom.

The company’s composite-based additive manufacturing technology (CBAM) is an entirely new process that is fundamentally different from conventional additive manufacturing technologies and designed specifically for composites.

Impossible Objects believes its new Model One 3D printer could be a step-change for the composites industry. © Impossible Objects

The goal is to produce the world’s strongest additively manufactured composite parts, rivalling hand lay-up materials, at injection moulding speeds.

“We’ve seen tremendous interest from a range of companies who want the advantages of 3D printing for their high-volume manufacturing and for materials they cannot get elsewhere,” said Robert Swartz, chairman and founder of Impossible Objects. “Until now, there was no way to print functional parts with the mechanical and material properties at the scale these companies need. The Model One is just the beginning of what CBAM can do. The technology has the potential to transform manufacturing as we know it.”

The company’s additive manufacturing technology (CBAM) is an entirely new process. © Impossible Objects

The composites can be bonded with thermoplastic matrix materials, ranging from nylon/ polyamide to polyethylene and PEEK.

“These strong, lightweight composite parts are in high demand, saving energy, reducing environmental impact, and enhancing user experiences,” said Swartz. “CBAM makes functional parts and tools that have an enormous advantage in a range of industries. Model One has the potential to enable companies to build parts at production speeds 100x faster than current methods.

Drone fuselage printed from nylon and carbon. © Impossible Objects

“Based on its combination of speed, strength and material sets, we believe CBAM could become an enabling technology for high-volume manufacturing,” said Greg Ojeda, senior director of AM Ecosystem Development and Strategy at Jabil. “We’ve identified applications where Impossible Objects could deliver a competitive advantage and significant cost savings over conventional manufacturing processes. We are excited to take part in the Impossible Objects pilot programme and look forward to working with the company’s team.

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