A Deep Dive into Additive Fusion Technology

March 5, 2024
In this segment, we take an end-to-end look at the additive fusion manufacturing process—from input data to final product.

Key Takeaways 

  • AFT’s end-to-end process 
  • Hardware and software used in AFT 
  • Rewriting thermal history  
  • Interlaminar bonding 

A comprehensive process that involves multiple key components and stages to go from input data to the final printed object, AFT begins with selecting high-quality materials, such as continuous fiber tape, which are made accessible for technology integration.

Next, the software aspect plays a crucial role where full material data cards are utilized to understand the characteristics of the selected materials. Engineering software like Fibrify Design Suite is used to create highly optimized parts by placing continuous fiber tape materials or short fiber reinforced polymers, according to Martin Eichenhofer, CEO at 9T Labs.  

In this second of a three-part video series, Eichenhofer takes Machine Design on a deep dive into the additive fusion process. 

From software to hardware and from design to workflow to build to fusion, Eichenhofer goes over every step of the process. By rewriting the thermal history of the material through all of the steps, properties like surface finish, interlaminar bonding and porosity are improved significantly, he said, adding that the fusion step is crucial in addressing interlaminar bonding issues and enhancing the overall quality of the final product.

The entire AFT process involves two main machines for placing the material and molding it, with the curing (solidifying) happening in both steps as the material goes through the melting and reshaping processes. The iterative process of melting and reshaping the material does not degrade its properties as long as proper controls are in place to maintain material integrity throughout the process. This approach in AFT minimizes the challenges often associated with 3D printing, he said, making it an efficient and effective method for producing high-quality, functional parts.

Watch additional parts of this interview series with Martin Eichenhofer of 9T Labs:

Part 1: An Overview of Additive Fusion Technology

Part 3: Additive Fusion Technology: Overcoming Challenges, Looking Ahead 

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