Traditionally, these titanium, aluminum, or steel parts are machined from a block of raw material by milling out the delicate part design. This process is energy intensive, creates scrap material and wears out milling tools fast. A common metric to quantify the material subtraction is the buy-to-fly ratio, which in many cases exceeds 20:1. Fiber composite materials are a favorable alternative for the metal materials used, allowing lighter part designs and a near net-shape manufacturing. However, conventional composite manufacturing technologies fail to provide the geometrical complexity and the economics required to make them a viable contender for metal substitution.
9T Labs, the Swiss system provider for digital composite production, and Arkema, one of the providers for high performance polymers, make metal substitution a reality. The combination of carbon fiber composite materials based on Arkema’s high performance Kepstan 7000 PEKK thermoplastic polymer and 9T Labs’ introduced Red Series manufacturing solution, enable the cost competitive series production of structural composite parts with complex internal fiber orientation.
To showcase the potential of metal substitution, a helicopter door hinge was manufactured. Using the integrated FEA solution of 9T Labs’ fibrify software, an optimized fiber layup with a true 3D internal fiber orientation was generated and subsequently manufactured using 9T Labs’ proprietary Additive Fusion Technology (AFT). As a result, the weight of the optimized fiber composite part was reduced by over 75% compared to the metal component. Furthermore, cost-per-part calculations reveal a 22% cost reduction for a series of 1’000 parts, demonstrating the economic viability of the Red Series solution for series production.
Technologies: Other Processing Method