Composite materials manufacturer and distributer Easy Composites has published a new report and video investigation into the mechanical properties of compression-moulded short-strand carbon fibre laminate, popularly described as ‘forged carbon’.
The video and report are a follow up to earlier videos where the company demonstrated practical ways in which accurate, double-side ‘forged’ carbon fibre components could be produced from 3D-printed or cast epoxy compression tools. This latest video compares the mechanical performance of short-run/protype processes – forged carbon fibre, 3D-printed Onyx, and Markforged 3D-printed continuous carbon fibre, with the original cast aluminium component.
Easy Composites’ original demonstration into ‘forged’ carbon fibre compression moulding showed how this process can be used to quickly turn around accurate, detailed, solid carbon fibre components without the need for expensive tooling or production equipment.
The firm demonstrated the production of two different components, a flywheel cover and a brake lever, which were moulded using randomly oriented short-strand ‘chopped tow’ carbon fibre and a low viscosity epoxy resin. In both cases the reinforcement and matrix were compression moulded between matched tools.
The tools for the brake lever had been 3D-printed on a conventional FDM printer, whereas the flywheel cover tools had been produced by casting aluminium-filled epoxy tools directly off the original component. In the demonstration the 3D printed tools are described as suitable for up to 2-3, whereas the cast epoxy tools are said to be adequately robust for ongoing production use.
Easy Composites suggest this process as a viable option for the production of smaller prototype, one-off, or short-run components with superior mechanical performance compared to alternatives such as 3D printed components.
In the video, Easy Composites’ Technical Director, Paul Statham, runs a series of mechanical tests comparing ‘forged’ carbon fibre tokens and components with those made from 3D-printed Onyx; a carbon fibre enhanced filament that can be used in a conventional FDM 3D-printer, Markforged continuous carbon fibre 3D print; a highly specialised 3D printer which can print with continuous carbon fibre filament, and aluminium component.
In addition to the standard forged carbon component, Easy Composites also tested a ‘hybrid’ version which had been reinforced with a combination of short-strand chopped tow and selectively placed continuous tow.