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Impossible Objects goal new ‘high-performance’ AM composites

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Impossible Objects has joined with materials manufacturer Owens Corning to create new specialised materials tailor-made for its composite-based additive manufacturing process (CBAM).

By bringing together Impossible Objects’ CBAM process and Owens Corning’s fully integrated glass non-woven manufacturing capabilities, the joint development agreement targets industrial scale production, able to compete with other high-volume manufacturing methods.

The CBAM process can eliminate the long lead-times and tooling costs involved in injection molding, while enabling mass customization of parts. CBAM also allows for the combination of parts, resulting in lower assembly costs.

Impossible Objects Ricoh cbam

The initial goal is to enable the production of stronger parts at costs lower than other 3D printing processes, with fibreglass composites identified as having key advantages for 3D-printed parts, including substantially greater strength-to-weight ratios compared to aluminium, lower costs, superior high-temperature performance and greater chemical resistance.

“Owens Corning is committed to the development of composite materials and their applications,” said Dr. Chris Skinner, VP strategic marketing, composites, Owens Corning.

“We seek to be at the forefront of new processing and new applications involving Composites. We have found the Impossible Objects technology and know-how potentially transformative for the conversion of some applications to composites.

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Corning added: “Because we believe it can be successful and deliver value to the market and our customers, we’ve entered into a joint agreement to support the development further.”

Impossible Objects states that lowering material cost is important for broadening adoption of additive manufacturing, with its research showing that costs of materials used in 3D printing can be higher than traditional manufacturing materials by up to a factor of 8 on a per-weight basis.

“Our CBAM process is a revolution in 3D printing, with faster speeds, better material properties and wider material selection,” said Impossible Objects founder Robert Swartz. “This collaboration with Owens Corning will allow us to quickly experiment with and refine new materials to significantly lower cost and bring unprecedented options for additive manufacturing.”

Impossible Objects’ proprietary CBAM technology claims it can produce parts 10 times faster than conventional fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printing.

By combining high-performance polymers like Nylon and PEEK with carbon fiber and fiberglass nonwoven materials, parts printed with Impossible Objects machines have the ability to be stronger, lighter, have better dimensional accuracy and have better temperature performance than what’s possible with conventional 3D printing methods.

The CBAM process can use a wide variety of materials including carbon fibre and fibreglass paired with PEEK, PA 6, PA 12, elastomerics and most other thermoplastics.

Owens Corning is the latest materials company to join forces with Impossible Objects, following on from BASF in 2019, to produce high-performance carbon fiber-PA6 composite parts for the first time.

Also in 2019, Tiger Coatings began work with Impossible Objects for the development of thermoset-based 3D printed composites.