Making Prints More Resilient With Fibre-Filled Filament

For all that we love 3D printers, sometimes the final print doesn’t turn out as durable as we might want it to be.

Aiming to mimic the properties of natural structures such as wood, bone, and shells, a research team lead by [Jennifer A. Lewis] at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Lewis Lab have developed a new combined filament and printing technique which they call rotational 3D printing.

Minuscule fibres are mixed in with the epoxy filament and their controlled orientation within the print can reinforce the overall structure or specific points that will undergo constant stresses. To do so the print head is fitted with a stepper motor, and its precisely programmed spin controls the weaving of the fibres into the print. The team suggests that they would be able to adapt this tech to many different 3D printing methods and materials, as well as use different materials and printed patterns to focus on thermal, electrical, or optical properties.

Be it adding carbon nano-tubes or enlisting the expertise of spiders to refine our printed materials, we’re looking forward to the future of ever stronger prints. However, that doesn’t mean that existing methods are entirely lacking in endurance.

[Thanks for the tip, Qes!]

14 thoughts on “Making Prints More Resilient With Fibre-Filled Filament

  1. Cool. I’m gonna look a little closer into what the specifically mean by “precisely programmed spin controls.” Did that filament with the continuous carbon fiber ever go anywhere? They have tons of finely chopped carbon fiber filaments, but having a continuous thread which runs through the whole print is pretty cool.

    1. I don’t know how strong are a couple of twisted fibers embedded in a filament compared to woven carbon/glass fibers impregnated with resin.
      Both serve different purposes and are not made in the same way, but having a proper cloth (or even mat) is supposed to be able to resist fatigue in multiple directions, instead of only one string that has been “glued” on top of itself that could be easier to break.

    1. It is… in the right discussion circles.

      I have quite nice nickel plated SLA printed bottle opener on my desk.

      It was done by a company called repliform. Google them if you wish.

      Pretty sure they paint with copper then electroplate nickel. Seems to be quite strong.

  2. Isn’t this essentially what Markforged does? I got a sample from them and their continuous fiber parts are very impressive. Downside is the machines are industrial priced and material is ghastly expensive, $3/cc.

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