A new printhead for Advanced Tape Layer Additive Manufacturing (ATLAM) has been developed by a team of researchers from CEAD, GKN Aerospace Deutschland, and the Technical University of Munich. The project has expected to lead to significant advances in large-scale 3D printing. This innovative printhead combines continuous fiber-reinforced composite tape laying with large-format additive manufacturing, resulting in the creation of low-cost composite tools that are ideal for aerospace applications.
When continuous carbon fiber tapes are integrated into the extrusion-based 3D printing process, the final tools have a lower coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) than tools printed with only short fiber reinforcement. This is critical in the aerospace industry, where tight tolerances must be maintained.
ATLAM is versatile because it allows for independent control of the extrusion nozzle and tape outlet, allowing for material property adjustment through the use of various tape reinforcement types, widths, and thermoplastic matrices. It can also process high-temperature polymers and various fibers, allowing for tailored properties depending on the application.
The project is funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs and Media, Energy, and Technology and is expected to lead to significant advances in large-scale 3D printing. Ongoing research by TUM, CEAD, and GKN Munich will continue to improve the large-scale 3D printing process and material options.