High-performance composite materials plus the hybrid additive fusion solution process lower production costs for advanced composite parts
Solvay is working with advanced manufacturing solution OEM 9T Labs AG (Zürich, Switzerland) to help bring additively manufactured carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) parts to mass production.
The joint effort enables 9TLabs’ innovative additive manufacturing technology to produce low-to-medium volume size parts for the aerospace, medical, luxury/leisure, automation, and oil and gas industries. Solvay will focus on the development of carbon fiber-reinforced polyetheretherketone (CF/PEEK), CF-reinforced bio-based high performance polyamides and CF-reinforced polyphenylene sulfide (CF/PPS) composite materials. The partnership significantly expands the types of neat and carbon fiber-reinforced materials portfolio that 9T Labs currently offers to customers.
“With 9T Labs’ innovative process and equipment and Solvay’s high-performance thermoplastic materials, we are well positioned to address problems that have long plagued manufacturers in many industries trying to use advanced composites — namely high incremental costs, high scrap, and problems achieving repeatability and traceability at high volumes,” explains Marco Apostolo, director of technology at Solvay.
“We believe this collaboration will help solve many challenges and will open entirely new markets and mass production applications to CFRP materials.”
Solvay offers an unmatched portfolio of high-performance thermoplastic polymers and deep expertise in the production of thermoplastic composite prepreg tape. As a leader in thermoplastic composites, Solvay brings unparalleled expertise in the engineering of production processes to ensure the technology can be integrated seamlessly into manufacturing lines.
“For the fabrication of structural parts metals still prevail because the manufacturing of structural CFRP parts has not been cost-competitive,” adds Giovanni Cavolina, 9T Labs co-founder and chief commercial officer. “The Red Series platform in combination with Solvay’s high-performance and recyclable materials will change this and make CFRP parts more sustainable, accessible and cost-competitive, especially at higher volumes.”
9T Labs’ hybrid manufacturing technology enables high-performance structural parts — in challenging small-to-medium size and thick sections — to be produced in carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites in production volumes ranging from 100 to 10,000 parts/year. By combining 3D printing (which offers unexcelled design freedom, part complexity, and control of fiber orientation) with compression molding in matched metal dies (providing rapid cycle times, high production rates, excellent surface finishes with low voids, plus high repeatability and reproducibility (R&R), the hybrid production system offers the best of both additive and conventional / subtractive manufacturing.
Solvay is a science company whose technologies bring benefits to many aspects of daily life. With more than 23,000 employees in 64 countries, Solvay bonds people, ideas and elements to reinvent progress. The Group seeks to create sustainable shared value for all, notably through its Solvay One Planet roadmap crafted around three pillars: protecting the climate, preserving resources and fostering a better life. The Group’s innovative solutions contribute to safer, cleaner, and more sustainable products found in homes, food and consumer goods, planes, cars, batteries, smart devices, health care applications, water and air purification systems. Founded in 1863, Solvay today ranks among the world’s top three companies for the vast majority of its activities and delivered net sales of €9 billion in 2020. Solvay is listed on Euronext Brussels and Paris (SOLB). Learn more at www.solvay.com.
About 9T Labs AG
9T Labs is an ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland) spinoff that was founded in 2018 by Chester Houwink, Giovanni Cavolina, and Martin Eichenhofer to leverage automation technology, software, and materials to make high-performance structural parts more accessible. The company’s patented Red Series Additive Fusion Solution technology — a hybrid of 3D printing and compression molding that is used to produce high-performance structural composite parts — is targeted at industries such as aerospace/aviation, automotive/motorsports and ground transportation, medical device, industrial/robotics/machinery, consumer luxury goods, and sporting goods.
® Red Series and Fibrify are registered trademarks of 9T Labs AG.