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Composite mould tool based on 3D printing

Project description

A hot new mould tool for the aerospace sector takes shape with 3D printing

Additive manufacturing reliably produces components with complex shapes by layering materials in a bottom-up fashion guided by a digital design file. It has been highly successful in reducing the time and cost of production and enhancing the quality of diverse components. However, until recently, the size of these products was limited by the sizes of the 3D printers used to layer on the materials. The EU-funded COMBO3D project will take advantage of newer larger printers to enable 3D printing of a fibre-reinforced thermoplastic mould tool for the aerospace sector. The tool will incorporate heating elements facilitating the heating and cooling of the mould and the composite during component manufacturing.


COMBO3D proposes to additively manufacture a short fibre reinforced thermoplastic tool with integrated active temperature control, to shorten the cure cycle time and so to focus on the objectives addressing the limitations and implementing the improvements of the state of the art project. By using a robot guided large scale short fibre reinforced plastics extrusion additive manufacturing process the tool can be produced as a single part, directly integrating the temperature control, shortening the lead-time and enabling simple and fast restoration of the tool surface to compensate for the expected lower lifespan. Using a robot-guided process also allows to print the final demonstrator tool in one piece in curved layers (real 3D printing). To ensure tool stability during the curing cycle, short carbon fibre reinforced semi-crystalline high performance thermoplastic PAEK will be used. Commercially available PAEK have a form stability of over 250°C in unreinforced grades and CF filled grades are available with heat deflection temperatures of 315°C and more.
By introducing heating elements in the tool, it can conduct heat to the parts lower surface, in combination with the autoclave or oven, heating it up from both sides. These heating elements can be electrical or fluid channels connected to an external temperature control. Electric heating elements provide higher heat up rates but fluid heating allows to change from heating to cooling mode and hence to also cool the tool. Thereby it is possible to also achieve faster cool down. COMBO3D therefore proposes to use both heating elements in the tool.
The whole development of the printed tool is supported by simulation. The design of the tool will be optimized by implementing the heating and cooling system in a thermal simulation. The manufacturing process simulation supports the printing process by generating knowledge about the temperature distribution during printing and correlating it with path planning.


Net EU contribution
€ 364 000,00
Arcisstrasse 21
80333 Muenchen

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Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 364 000,00

Participants (3)