Apr 19, 2018 | By David

Dutch firm CEAD was formed back in 2014 when two of Leapfrog's co-founders decided they wanted to focus more on the industrial 3D printing sector. In 2017, CEAD set out to deliver a large-format 3D printer for industrial sectors such as maritime and construction, based on continuous fiber additive manufacturing technology. We reported on the progress of this huge 3D printer back in January, and CEAD has been able to reach some key milestones since then.

The most important of these was the impregnation and extruding of a continuous glass and carbon fiber within the printing process. The second milestone CEAD has delivered on was a 24-hour test on the complete extrusion system, for reliability purposes. After completing these milestones, CEAD set out to find and move to a new factory for building the new machine.

CEAD intends to have the CFAM 3D printing technology ready for delivery in 2018. The CFAM machine will be capable of making parts with a size of up to 4m (13ft) x 2m (6.5ft) x 1.5m (4.9ft) with fiber-reinforced thermoplastics. Some of the machine’s specifications are unique and novel to the additive manufacturing market. These unique requirements include the addition of continuous fiber to the printed object, the large build area which is completely controllable, and the use of many different thermoplastic materials ranging from PP to PEEK with an output of at least 15 kg (33lbs) / hr.

With these three challenging requirements determining the future of the CFAM technology, CEAD began the development of its proprietary extruder in September, finishing the development in December. Focusing on the processing of PP, PET, ABS and PEEK, this work proved successful, extruding these four different materials for at least an hour each and reaching outputs that well exceeded the 15kg (33lbs) benchmark.

In December the most challenging development started, regarding the continuous fiber. This was a challenge as the carbon or glass fiber needed to be fully impregnated with the thermoplastic material, for full strength and stiffness of the processed material. In February 2018 this development was proven successful after subjecting several printed test samples to ILSS (interlaminar shear strength) tests according to several ISO norms. In March, CEAD finally finished the groundbreaking developments and proved all its systems and innovations to be successful, after completing a 24-hour durability test. During this test, the systems ran without operator interference for 24 hours straight.

After the completion of these critical developments, CEAD took the necessary steps to start the process of bringing this technology to the production environment. The first necessary step was to move operations to a larger production facility, due to the machine’s large size and weight. CEAD is currently fully operational at its new facility in Delft. Located near the Technical University of Delft and incorporating over 1000m2 (10, 764 sq. ft) of production space, the new location will be used to build the first full-scale CFAM machine.

(all images, source: CEAD)

Starting from July 2018, the CFAM prototype will be available to 3D print its first objects for applications. Poly Products and Royal Roos are the company’s launch clients, and a third client will also be running pilot projects on the prototype. The first commercial machine will be delivered to Poly Products in 2019.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer

 

 

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