Tooling Printed On Demand
Each SCRAM cell is equipped with not only a continuous fiber-reinforced printing system, but also a rapid tool fabrication system based on an advanced FFF printing process. Conventional automated fiber layup always requires a substantial investment in hard tooling that is inflexible, expensive, and long-lead. Operators of a SCRAM cell, in contrast, can simply print their support tool on demand, starting from just a flat plate. Later, after the part has finished printing, the tool material is dissolved away. This enables rapid design iteration and allows any given SCRAM cell to be only limited by its size and the imagination of the designer. It also allows creation of part geometries such as internal channels that are difficult or impossible to produce otherwise.
A Multi-Material System
In addition to the continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic printing process and the FFF support tool printing process, SCRAM cells are also fitted with an FFF nozzle optimized for deposition of thermoplastic material reinforced with short or “chopped” fiber. A proprietary laser heating system is incorporated, producing exceptionally strong bonds between layers. This process is ideal for situations where laying up continuous fiber is geometrically impossible or otherwise doesn’t make sense.
Like the continuous fiber process, this is a “true 3D” printing process where the layers are not constrained to a stack of planes. Complex geometries such as variable density core and other internal structures can be printed directly onto continuous fiber-reinforced layers with widely varying curvature. If desired, continuous fiber-reinforced layers can then be deposited on top of the chopped fiber-reinforced core structure, forming an upper skin.