The concept of using 3-D printing to produce composite parts for cars has gained momentum over the past few years. However, one OEM has separated itself from others by experimenting with an unlikely application: carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) parts with paper-based 3-D printing.

Honda and Ireland-based Mcor Technologies have been collaborating on CFRP molds that Honda will be using for high-performance vehicle testing. Using paper-based 3D printed models as the molds for this process reduces the cost of producing CFRPs considerably.

Mcor’s technology is known as selective deposition lamination (SDL) and comprises the following steps:

  1. Generate the Digital File – Mcor’s SliceIT reads the digital data and slices the computer model into printable layers equivalent in thickness to the paper.
  2. Attach the first sheet of paper to the printer’s build plate, manually.
  3. The printer applies adhesive on top of the first manually-placed sheet of paper. The adhesive is applied selectively – hence the name SDL – “Selective.”
  4. A new sheet of paper automatically slides in and the machine applies pressure to bond the first and second sheets.
  5. An adjustable blade cuts each sheet of paper according to the part design.
  6. The process continues layer by layer until the part is finished.
Diagram showing Mcor's Selective Deposition Lamination technology steps
Mcor’s Selective Deposition Lamination technology steps (Image from Mcortechnologies.com)

When Honda discovered SDL 3-D printing, the automaker began experimenting with laying traditional CFRP over 3D-printed paper molds, which are then placed together in an autoclave for final curing.

Honda found that the SDL printed parts performed as well as plastic 3D printed parts in wind-tunnel testing; and the toughness was greater with SDL parts.

>>Read more by Evan Milberg, Composites Manufacturing, December 5, 2016

 

Honda Tests CFRP Molds Made with Paper-Based 3-D Printing