New carbon fiber material adds shop floor capabilities to the F-Series printers

Article by Stefan Bullock updated May 14, 2021

Article

Stratasys introduced ABS-CF carbon fiber material to the F-series family of printers elevating the already stellar capabilities of the F123 Series to another level; blurring lines between the office and the shop floor.

Users can enjoy the speed, quietness, and ease of use of the Stratasys F-Series whilst accessing advanced materials typically reserved for production systems. Print without compromise: quick and easy office friendly printing while expanding the application capabilities by utilizing advanced materials like ABS-CF.

How is ABS-CF different from ABS? Working with ABS-CF is as simple as a regular ABS print – we still have all the benefits of soluble supports, optimized interior fillers afforded through GrabCAD Advanced FDM, and more! Though the workflow remains the same, the material certainly is not. ABS-CF is 10% filled chopped carbon blend of the standard ABS from Stratasys, boasting a 50% increase in stiffness and a 15% increase in strength. These superior mechanical properties allow for a significant improvement of printed parts but also expands a realm of possibilities for Stratasys F-series users. End of arm tooling, jigs and fixtures, manufacturing aids, and robust end-use parts are all applications that can be improved by the upgraded mechanical properties of ABS-CF.

Carbon fiber pipe weld fixture

Carbon fiber pipe weld fixture

Dimensional Stability vs ABS

Dimensional stability plays a large role in the effectiveness of manufacturing aids. The lifespan of an aid directly depends on its ability to perform a repeatable task within its operation specifications. ABS-CF boasts significant improvements in stiffness, strength and notable mean CTE improvements over the standard ABS plastic. The variations in mean CTE are of notable impact here, as it means higher dimensional accuracy in more challenging environments that are typically experienced on the shop floor.

This means that tooling produced with our ABS-CF have smaller dimensional variance due to temperature compared to the standard ABS. We can see two specific comparators here that allow us to gain more insight into the behavior of the material. The first is the CTE comparison to ABS material.

Fig. 1 dimension change vs temp ABS-M30

Fig. 1 Dimension change vs temp ABS-M30

Fig 2. dimension change vs temp ABS-CF

Fig 2. Dimension change vs temp ABS-CF

We can see immediately that ABS-CF shows significantly lower deflection across the typical shop floor range of environment and continues that trend into the higher temperature applications. This allows CF to produce tools that provide better repeatable performance and last longer on the shop floor.

Carbon Fiber Material Performance

One of the largest enhancements ABS-CF provides is 50% increase in stiffness. Stiffness plays an important role in jigs and fixtures, specifically when looking at non static manufacturing aids. Non-static fixtures like end of arm tooling on assembly lines endure dynamic loading when in use.

AM allows for lighter, more complex EOATs when compared to traditional manufacturing methods, without compromising on performance – this allows smaller arms and faster travel speeds, saving costs by decreasing cycle times, allowing for smaller equipment to be used, and optimizing designs through part consolidation. These advantages are further improved by ABS-CF, where we see even higher strength and stiffness advantages over other material offerings on the F-series.

Higher material stiffness combined with lower specific gravity as compared to ABS, allows for tools to lighten the net payload on the EOA tooling as well as offer stiffer tooling for less vibration and wear on the robotic arm controlling the tools. ABS-CF has a lower density than ABS, which also allows for weight reduction of tooling.

Let us look at a quick example of an end of arm gripper that had its geometry adjusted to utilize the advantages that ABS-CF brings. This gripper was initially designed with ABS in mind and a target deflection of 1mm max. Below we can see the initial geometry and its max displacement plot using SOLIDWORKS Simulation.

Gripper designed for ABS-M30

Gripper designed for ABS-M30

Initial gripper design FEA analysis

Maximum displacement plot using SOLIDWORKS Simulation

With a target max displacement of 1mm, we can now apply ABS-CF as our material of choice and start reducing model material geometry until the same displacement is achieved. Iteratively optimizing the design to take advantage of our new upgraded material, we were able to reduce geometry and material consumption as follows.

Gripper design using ABS-CF10 carbon fiber material

Gripper design using ABS-CF10 material

Maximum displacement plot using SOLIDWORKS Simulation for carbon fiber material

Maximum displacement plot using SOLIDWORKS Simulation

Results

Our geometry optimization using ABS-CF allowed this tool material volume to be reduced by 20% while still maintaining a maximum displacement lower than the initial target of 1mm and also lead a 15% reduction in print time.

Additive Professional Services Team

By adopting a user-centric approach, our professional services team help organizations identify opportunities where additive manufacturing (AM) can be leveraged to address new ideas, ongoing challenges, or new business needs within their organizations.

Contact our team today to find out how ABS-CF can make a difference to your design cycles!

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Stefan Bullock

Stefan is a Print Services Applications Specialist on Javelin's Additive Professional Services team.