Exceptional mechanical performance by spatial printing with continuous fiber: Curved slicing, toolpath generation and physical verification

Guoxin Fang, Tianyu Zhang, Yuming Huang, Zhizhou Zhang, Kunal Masania, Charlie C.L. Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This work explores a spatial printing method to fabricate continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites (CFRTPCs), which can achieve exceptional mechanical performance. For models giving complex 3D stress distribution under loads, typical planar-layer based fiber placement usually fails to provide sufficient reinforcement due to their orientations being constrained to planes. The effectiveness of fiber reinforcement could be maximized by using multi-axis additive manufacturing (MAAM) to better control the orientation of continuous fibers in 3D-printed composites. Here, we propose a computational approach to generate 3D toolpaths that satisfy two major reinforcement objectives: (1) following the maximal stress directions in critical regions and (2) connecting multiple load-bearing regions by continuous fibers. Principal stress lines are first extracted in an input solid model to identify critical regions. Curved layers aligned with maximal stresses in these critical regions are generated by computing an optimized scalar field and extracting its iso-surfaces. Then, topological analysis and operations are applied to each curved layer to generate a computational domain that preserves fiber continuity between load-bearing regions. Lastly, continuous fiber toolpaths aligned with maximal stresses are generated on each surface layer by computing an optimized scalar field and extracting its iso-curves. A hardware system with dual robotic arms is employed to conduct the physical MAAM tasks depositing polymer or fiber reinforced polymer composite materials by applying a force normal to the extrusion plane to aid consolidation. When comparing to planar-layer based printing results in tension, up to 644% failure load and 240% stiffness are observed on shapes fabricated by our spatial printing method. We demonstrate the versatility of our approach through various complex load cases which demonstrate their successful implementation of continuous fiber printing in 3D.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104048
Number of pages16
JournalAdditive Manufacturing
Volume82
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites
  • Multi-axis additive manufacturing
  • Toolpath generation

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