The use of Continuous Composites’ proprietary Continuous Fiber 3D Printing (CF3D) process allowed Siemens energy to replace a metallic generator component with a component built of composite materials. In conjunction with Arkema, a new special thermoset Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP) was developed for the project. The new process, using the new GFRP materials, cuts cost and lead time while creating sturdy, reliable parts.
The CF3D process is a hybrid of thermosetting resin technology and continuous fiber reinforcements. A continuous dry fiber impregnated with a snap curing thermosetting resin is delivered by the end effector, which is moved by a motion platform driven software, printing parts optimized for high-performance. The technology can be applied to carbon, glass, and aramid fibers, as well as metallic and optical fibers. The CF3D materials may be tailored for mechanical properties, heat transfer, and environmental durability, and offer flexible design capabilities.
Siemens changed its generator supply chain based on the capabilities of CF3D. In the past, most generator components were manufactured using a costly conventional metal casting process, requiring long lead times. Implementing the CF3D process and using the GFRP composite, manufacturing costs of the components were reduced 5-times and lead times were cut from 10 months to 3 weeks.
“The superior mechanical performance of CF3D, combined with the significant cost and lead time reduction, led to our selection of Continuous Composites,” said Dr. Joel Alfano, principal technology development engineer at Siemens Energy. “The opportunity to replace a metallic generator component with composite materials leveraging AM is a powerful breakthrough for solving the constraints we face in the Energy industry, and CF3D technology is making it possible.”
Tyler Alvarado, CEO of Continuous Composites, said, “The deployment of CF3D for manufacturing generator components is one example where our technology is disrupting current manufacturing processes and replacing metallic parts with high-performance composite materials. Our collaboration with Siemens Energy demonstrates our ability to develop and customize material solutions with stringent mechanical property requirements.”