High Temperature Continuous Fiber Print
Aerospace brackets are support structures that are used in a wide range of applications, such as landing gears, fuselage frame and wing assembly, engine mounts, and electrical wire installations. Typically they are made from steel. Continuous Fiber Additive Manufacturing technology enables lowering of aircraft weight and increasing flight efficiency by use of thermoplastic composites with a higher strength per weight ratio than steel. In addition, shape optimization of a bracket enabled by the additive manufacturing process allows for a further lowering achieving potentially a bracket that has 25 % of the original weight.
Use of thermoplastic composites are used more and more in airplanes and Continuous Fiber Additive Manufacturing Technology allows the relatively small number of brackets in an airplane to be produced cost effectively and at the same time permitting the flexibility to manufacture many of different types of brackets.
Thermoplastic polymers in aerospace need to resist very high and low temperatures which requires special high temperature polymers to be used. Brightlands Materials Center made the first 3D printed Ultem 9085 (polyetherimide blend) tensile bars with continuous carbon fiber. Polyetherimide is a high performance plastic that provides high heat resistance, favorable flame and smoke characteristics and that is made for demanding applications. The parts were printed on a modified Anisoprint Composer using an Ultem 9085 filament.
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