To achieve those properties, parts require multidirectional fibers and a high fiber content. “Those are the things we can control using our two-step approach,” says Bouwmeester. “We get the benefits of 3D printing in freedom of shape and properties of the core, added to the mechanical properties of composites.”
Bouwmeester says Fiberneering’s process is well-suited to automotive applications that require production of 20 to 50 parts per day or a few thousand in total. He also believes that aerospace could benefit from FRP3D, particularly for interior panels in aircraft that currently incorporate honeycomb sandwich materials.
Wherever honeycomb sandwiches have cut-outs or connections, they are closed off with potting material, which adds a lot of weight, says Bouwmeester. “We can create a core that has very similar structural properties to honeycomb, but we can make allowances for the cut-outs and close off the edges during printing,” he says. “In addition, we can use open cell structures so there’s no risk of moisture entrapment in the panels. That’s a huge potential benefit for aviation applications.”
Bouwmeester acknowledges that Fiberneering’s technology isn’t a universal solution for all 3D-printed projects. Nor does he believe additive manufacturing is going to take over the entire composites manufacturing landscape. “Some people promote 3D printing as a solution to everything. I’m not one of those people,” he says. “But I see our technology as an opportunity to do some smart things with composites.”