Basia Dżaman, a student at Poznań, Poland’s School of Form, has created a machine that can print and weave carbon fiber. Dżaman modified robots by KUKA, a renowned industrial manufacturer, by adding custom 3-D printed tool heads and parts to them. She designed all of the parts in a 3-D printing design software called Rhinoceros, or “Rhino” for short.
“I focused on creating a fully working technology that allows you to make any carbon construction built around a supporting structure,” Dżaman explained.
The machine operates by drilling holes into a support structure, such as wood, which allows the handler to install support posts for the material. Once the support posts have been plotted and installed by the user, a different tool head is added to feed the fiber materials through based on parameters set by the Rhino program. The software can be modified and can tell the printer to create a wide variety of stitches and designs. During the feeding process, the carbon fiber is coated with resin that is placed in a holding reservoir so that the finished structure dries as solid carbon fiber.
As the resin hardens, the remaining carbon fiber becomes very stiff. Each part of the modified KUKA robot that Dżaman 3D prints in plastic takes 3-5 hours each to fabricate. She then removes the support material and screws the parts onto the KUKA robot. This is what turns the robot into a carbon fiber producing machine.
So far, Dżaman’s has primarily used the machine to produce Polish traditional handcraft called “snutki,” but the machine has many other potential applications for companies who want to produce customizable lightweight carbon fiber parts.
“This has proven to be a versatile process which leaves many possibilities open for exploration in the future,” Dżaman says.