COMPrinting: Novel 3D Printing of Curved Continuous Carbon Fibre Reinforced Powder-based Epoxy Composites

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COMPrinting: Novel 3D Printing of Curved Continuous Carbon Fibre Reinforced Powder-based Epoxy Composites

Host Institution: University of Edinburgh

Start Date: 1st March, 2020

Duration: 6 months

Lead Investigator: Dongmin Yang

Co-Investigators: Colin Robert, Conchur O’Bradaigh, Edward McCarthy, Frank Mill

Aims

This feasibility study will prove the concept of 3D printing carbon fibre reinforced powder-based epoxy filaments on a modified FFF printer to enable fast and low-cost printing of continuous fibres with identified paths to achieve comparable mechanical performance with autoclave processed parts. The technique will fundamentally change the current FFF 3D printing practice for continuous fibres and can be easily adopted to other FFF printers in general, thus making the manufacturing of high-performance continuous fibre reinforced composites ‘on bench. 

Main objectives of the project include:  

(1) Modification of an existing towpregging tapeline [4] (TPTL, Figure 2) for producing low-cost carbon fibre reinforced powder-based epoxy filament (1 to 3k tows, fibre Vf up to 65%) with a low viscosity and high deposition rate for use on FFF 3D printers. This project will increase the 3 versatility of this manufacturing method, to bring forward a faster, more controlled and optimised way to manufacture composites.  

(2) Design and manufacturing a novel printer nozzle with a rectangular cross-section at the outlet to enable better compression of fibres and modifying a FFF printer head to enable up to 180° rotation to minimise fibre twisting and misalignment when turning.  

(3) 3D printing powder-based epoxy composites with identified performance-driven curved continuous fibre paths that are demonstrated in our previous numerical study [5], followed by vacuum bagging and curing in oven.  

(4) Testing and characterisation of the printed composites using digital image correlation (DIC), SEM as well as X-Ray μCT to evaluate the printing quality and elucidate the failure mechanisms of the printed composites with identified curved continuous carbon fibres. 

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