Advanced MaterialsAdvanced PolymersAutomotive AMJEC WorldLFAMMaterialsPhotopolymer ResinsTooling

Dahltram composite resins inspire innovation

Airtech Advanced Materials Group and its portfolio of Dahltram resins are breaking records, winning awards, and broadening opportunities for thermoplastic composite 3D printing

Stay up to date with everything that is happening in the wonderful world of AM via our LinkedIn community.

It is near impossible to talk about 3D printing composites without discussing Airtech Advanced Materials Group and its range of Dahltram thermoplastic composite resins. The company, which has over 50 years of experience in material extrusion, is now a leader in the development and supply of composite pellets and filaments for large-format additive manufacturing (LFAM). Not only that, it also operates Print-Tech, a service for the production of composite tooling which is based on a hybrid approach of 3D printing near-net-shaped parts (up to 12 x 3 meters) and precision machining.

At the recent JEC 2024, Airtech’s Dahltram range—including some new material grades we’ll discuss in more detail—was highlighted in many ways, including live printing sessions, and several cutting-edge use cases, like an Aircraft Fairing Vacuum Trimming Fixture 3D printed using Dahltram C-250GF (which was showcased in the JEC Innovation Planet Mobility area), as well as 3D printed molds and production parts made for the Brumos Racing team.

Airtech Advanced Materials Group and its portfolio of Dahltram resins are broadening opportunities for thermoplastic composite 3D printing.

A circular economy for motorsport tooling

The Brumos Racing use case was of great interest to us and the rest of JEC 2024 attendees. Airtech Advanced Materials Group has been the technical partner of Brumos Racing since 2022, when it partnered with BBi Autosport to create 3D printed molds and end-use parts for the Porsche GT2 RS Clubsport, which raced in June 2022 at the 100th edition of the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb. The partnership has been a fruitful one, and Airtech has continued to supply its materials and services to the racing team, with more 3D printed parts (and parts made using 3D printed molds) integrated into the latest version of the team’s race car.

A second-generation Brumos Racing mold was showcased at JEC 2024. The part, a mold for producing an carbon-fiber aerodynamic splitter, was 3D printed on a Thermwood 1040 LSAM 3D printer using an experimental recycled-grade Dahltram C-250CF, a 20% carbon-fiber reinforced modified polycarbonate, known for its high impact resistance and a heat distortion temperature of up to 144°C. Notably, this grade of material was derived from the previous generation Brumos mold tool., demonstrating the viability of a more circular and sustainable system for tooling production. (Not to mention that the use of additive manufacturing on its own eliminates the need for a master mold.)

The 3D printed mold—a finalist in the upcoming TCT Awards in the Automotive & Rail category—and the carbon fiber splitter helped improve the aerodynamic performance of the Porsche GT2 RS Clubsport by increasing downforce, ultimately resulting in a new speed record for a car in its class (9:18:053).

Airtech Advanced Materials Group and its portfolio of Dahltram resins are broadening opportunities for thermoplastic composite 3D printing.

Ever-expanding material range

The recycled composite resin used in the Brumos Racing use case is not the only material Airtech has developed with sustainability in mind. In late 2023, the company made its entry into recycled-grade thermoplastic polymer resins for large-format 3D printing with the launch of Dahltram T-100GF resin, a recycled-grade co-copolyester reinforced with fiberglass. These innovative resins are leading the way in recycled materials and have made a significant impact, particularly in sustainability initiatives.The material, one of the company’s most affordable consumable options, is well suited to lower temperature applications, including rapid prototyping, low-temp master models, trim tools and more.

The material complements Airtech’s expansive (and ever-expanding) material portfolio, which also includes newcomers like Dahltram U-350CF Filament, a feedstock suitable for small and mid-size extrusion systems. The material is a modified polyethersulfone (PESU) reinforced with aerospace-grade carbon fiber for superior stiffness and durability. The filament’s specific combination of properties, which also includes excellent thermal properties (HDT up to 215°C) and dimensional stability, make it viable for a range of engineering applications, such as functional prototypes, jigs, fixtures, shop aids and low-volume production parts. Polycarbonate and PETG based reinforced filaments have also just been launched. Technical details should be available shortly

EmpowerAX

These new materials build on Airtech’s more long-standing material grades, including Dahltram I-350CF resin, a carbon-fiber-reinforced PEI-based material suitable for high-temperature applications in demanding industries like aerospace. The robust material, which has been adopted by end users like BAE Systems to produce high-temperature tooling, is also a key part of the ongoing EmpowerAX project, which recently won the JEC 2024 Innovation Award for Aerospace Processes.

Airtech Advanced Materials Group and its portfolio of Dahltram resins are broadening opportunities for thermoplastic composite 3D printing.

The EmpowerAX project is being realized by 12 international partners (Airtech, CEAD, 9T Labs, Ansys, Siemens, Ensinger, Fiberthree, Fill Gesellschaft, WEBER additive, PRIME aerostructures, Suprem and SWMS Systemtechnik Ingenieur) through the framework of the DLR Innovation Lab. In short, the project is focused on making additive extrusion with continuous fiber reinforcement accessible to a wider range of users and for a greater variety of applications through the development of the process chain.

“[Additive extrusion with continuous fiber reinforcement] is considered to be a key technology for the future success of thermoplastic composites in a wide range of industrial sectors,” the EmpowerAX website reads. “Combining the excellent mechanical properties of continuous fibers with the design freedom offered by additive manufacturing allows the reinforcement fibers to be oriented precisely along critical load paths. This means that resilient, customized lightweight structures can be manufactured from continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastics. However, additive extrusion with continuous fiber reinforcement is not yet established to the same extent as conventional 3D printing. This is where EmpowerAX comes in, as an international driver in the field of additive extrusion technology.”

The JEC 2024 Innovation Award was presented to the EmpowerAX partners for a recent project in which they demonstrated an “industrially available process chain for local reinforcement of a multi-curved thermoset shell”. The demonstration utilized Airtech’s carbon-fiber-reinforced PEI-based Dahltram I-350CF resin, which was applied to a conventionally manufactured aerospace shell using robotic 3D printing. The addition of the printed composite functioned to increase part stiffness, resulting in a strong, lightweight system, and the demonstration showcased the viability of using such a technique in the aerospace industry.

A partner in innovation

Airtech Advanced Materials Group continues to progress in its mission to develop and supply high-performance resins to the additive manufacturing market. The company’s already versatile range of materials is compatible with several large-format printing solutions as well as smaller extrusion systems and can be used for many applications, ranging from motorsport tooling, to aerospace shell reinforcement, to production parts, and beyond.

This article was originally published in VoxelMatters’ VM Focus Polymer eBook. Read or download the full eBook for free at this link.

Research
Composites AM 2024

746 composites AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core composites AM market generated over $785 million in 2023. Market expected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2033 at 25.8% CAGR. This new...

Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • PHPSESSID
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

Decline all Services
Save
Accept all Services

Newsletter

Join our 12,000+ Professional community and get weekly AM industry insights straight to your inbox. Our editor-curated newsletter equips executives, engineers, and end-users with crucial updates, helping you stay ahead.