Anisoprint’s Advanced Toolchanging 3D Printing for Continuous Carbon Fiber

By on July 10th, 2024 in news, printer

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Tool changing technology from Anisoprint [Source: Fabbaloo]

I had a chat with Ryan Liu, Anisoprint’s new CEO.

Liu assumed the title earlier this year from company founder Fedor Antonov, who now focuses on the technology as CTO of Anisoprint. The company’s flagship product these days is the PROM IS 500, targeted at industrial users.

Anisoprint is one of the very few companies that produce 3D printers capable of printing with continuous carbon fiber. Carbon fiber can be significantly stronger than steel, while being very lightweight. That makes it a highly desirable material, even able to swap in for metal parts, if the temperature isn’t too high.

Unfortunately, carbon fiber on its own cannot be 3D printed. Therefore, Anisoprint’s approach is to print in standard polymers, but have an additional toolhead that lays down continuous strands of carbon fiber in each layer of the print. The carbon fiber strands are embedded in the part, making them incredibly strong.

Normally this is done by using two toolheads: one for the polymer and one to lay out and cut the carbon fiber. That makes for a two-head machine that has some challenges: two toolheads on the same axis means not all of the print volume can be used. It also adds to the weight that must be moved during operations, requiring more heavy-duty motors.

Anisoprint’s PROM IS 500 solves this dilemma by using a tool changer approach: there is only one motion system, and it swaps in toolheads as required. One can be for polymer, and the other for carbon fiber, for example. In fact, the PROM IS 500 is able to handle four toolheads in this way.

Liu explained that the toolhead swap process is very quick, taking only two seconds, approximately. This means there shouldn’t be extra-long print jobs as one encounters with some multimaterial machines.

This allows the PROM IS 500 to use the full print volume, which happens to be a massive 600 x 420 x 300 mm.

The extra toolhead capacity means that it should be possible to use soluble support material in one of them. That would permit operators to 3D print highly complex geometries without concern, as the support material simply washes out after printing.

But there’s more: the PROM IS 500 is also a high temperature 3D printer. The hot end can hit 410C, the chamber 160C, and the spool storage 90C. This means it is entirely possible to 3D print exotic engineering materials like PEI, PEEK, PEKK, PAEK, PPSU, PSU, PA, PC on the machine — with continuous carbon fiber AND soluble support (if you can find a soluble support material for the high temperatures). Liu explained that their equipment is fully open materials, so you can try anything you’d like on them.

The toolchanging approach actually does lower the costs of the system somewhat as they require simpler servo motors to drive the more lightweight motion system. Liu told us the system now costs around US$45,000, which is surprisingly inexpensive for the features included.

That’s a very unique combination of capabilities that I don’t believe is seen in any other 3D printer offering on the market today.

Via Anisoprint

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!