Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Stratasys Announces First Carbon Fiber 3D Printing Filament for F123

ST Medical Devices

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Stratasys has introduced a new carbon fiber material for fused deposition modeling (FDM). While the company has had a carbon fiber filament available on their industrial printers for several years, this is the first carbon-based option for their F123 series.

The new filament is called ABS-CF10, and it’s based on ABS thermoplastic. The “CF-10” stands for Carbon Fiber 10, as the filament is 10 percent chopped carbon fiber by weight. The carbon fiber makes it 15% stronger and over 50% stiffer than their standard ABS filament, and Stratasys bills it as a “compelling alternative to metal parts.”

ABS-CF10 is meant for the Stratasys F123 line of “benchtop” printers, lighter than the company’s Fortus industrial systems. According to the company’s press release, it will work specifically with the heavy-duty F170, F270, and F370 printers. The company has not specified yet whether it will work with the newer, smaller F120

In some ways, this release has been a long time coming. Stratasys founder S. Scott Crump filed the first patent for an FDM printer back in 1989, but copycat FFF-style printers have been printing with carbon fiber filaments for more than five years as a part of a larger development of carbon fiber 3D printing techniques, which also include continuous fiber reinforcement. 

Before this release, Stratasys only had carbon fiber-based material available for their industrial printers. Their nylon 12 carbon fiber (FDM Nylon 12CF), released in 2017, was made for their industrial Fortus printers. Nylon 12CF is 35% carbon fiber by weight, and Stratasys said it boasted the best stiffness-to-weight ratio of any of their FDM thermoplastics. Accordingly, it was made for designers and engineers putting together low volume production parts and working prototypes, and has been popular in industrial scale applications like jigs, fixtures, and tooling.

The red-painted parts on this bike frame were printed with Stratasys’ Nylon 12CF, the company’s sole FDM carbon fiber option before this new release (Image courtesy of Stratasys).

Indeed, it was so popular that Stratasys put out an entirely new printer to deal with it. They released the Fortus F380mc, a pared-down version of the Fortus 450 that was only capable of printing in carbon fiber, back in 2018.  

With the new release, Stratasys is focused on applications in aerospace, automotive, industrial, and recreational manufacturing industries.

“There is a reason why manufacturers are increasingly turning to 3D-printed carbon fiber materials,” said Dick Anderson, Stratasys Senior VP of Manufacturing. “It’s incredibly strong, versatile, and lightweight. We want to enable all our FDM customers to take advantage of those material characteristics.”

F123 users can look forward to getting their hands on ABS-CF10 this April. 

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