While additive manufacturing offers engineers unparalleled freedom of design, opening up new opportunities for lightweight construction, the material properties still lag behind those of, for example, lightweight carbon composites. Now Cikoni, an engineering company in Stuttgart, Germany has developed an additive manufacturing technology that allows the realization of hybrid structures by means of a combined and fully automated manufacturing approach in which continuous carbon fiber reinforcement directly follows the load paths and the additive base structure serves as support for compressive loading. In composite materials, fibres provide strength in the direction in which they are arranged.
The method addresses the disadvantage of additive manufacturing, i.e., the problem that larger production volumes are costly and time-consuming and it offers a solution to the tooling costs, inefficient material utilization and material waste that lead to the high overall costs of composite manufacture.
AdditiveCARBON offers what the company describes as a “targeted hybridization”.
The carbon fiber reinforcement reduces the necessary building volume of the 3D printing part and the additively manufactured base structure makes a separate tool unnecessary for the robot-supported 3D-winding process. A symbiosis, which has a positive impact on the cost side, it writes.
The approach is particularly interesting where lightweight design requirements are combined with limited component production runs, such as, says Cikoni, customized prostheses and ultralight aircraft structures, To ensure that the process can also be applied in cost-sensitive areas, CIKONI engineers have also developed a modular system with hybridized injection-molded and metal components, from which larger structures can be quickly configured from modules – a holistic approach that, says Cirkoni, has already convinced numerous customers to rethink their view on lightweight design.