In a 2020 survey, 22% of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing customers reported they used 3D printing for manufacturing aids. An additional 33% viewed that application as additive’s biggest growth opportunity in the coming decade. Another notable survey takeaway was that mechanical properties of 3D printed parts was a key factor affecting broader adoption of the technology. Although the definition of “3D printed parts” covers a lot of ground, it’s reasonable to include tools and manufacturing aids in that category.
It’s clear from this information that 3D printing is viewed as an important solution for fast, cost-effective tooling, provided the right materials are available. Fortunately, the addition of carbon fiber ABS-CF10 to the FDM material lineup offers companies the material properties they’re looking for.
One of those companies is Javelin Technologies, a Trimech Company. Javelin is a Canadian leader in additive manufacturing providing both hardware and service solution to a diverse portfolio of customers. One of Javelin’s customers is a major auto manufacturer and was retooling its truck production line. It approached Javelin for a quick solution to replace heavy and cumbersome tooling used to apply badging to the truck’s tailgate. The short two-week timeline and desire for a lighter design was a perfect fit for an FDM 3D printed solution.
Before the advent of carbon fiber ABS-CF10, Javelin used standard ABS. Designers used a sparse fill to make the tool as light as possible. However, this resulted in insufficient strength and required redesign using solid fill. This helped, but it wasn’t the best solution since the tool could still flex depending on the amount of pressure applied.
That all changed with the availability of ABS-CF10. The material is 50% stiffer than standard ABS, resulting from the addition of 10% chopped carbon fiber. It’s easy to print and compatible with soluble support, allowing total design freedom. Within days of incorporating ABS-CF10 into its portfolio, Javelin identified several tooling applications benefitting from the improved material properties, while still providing the ease of use associated with standard ABS.