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3D printing expert E3D achieved a major industry milestone last year with the release of its newest filament, Scaffold. Scaffold can be completely dissolved in water, which makes it an ideal support material for 3D printing projects. Their latest experiments have demonstrated its further potential for 3D printing molds, which were used to create some impressive parts and objects out of composite materials.
E3D’s Scaffold filament was designed to tackle the problem of overhanging edges in 3D printed objects. Designs for 3D printing are limited due to the inability to print overhangs beyond a certain angle. In general, the same filament material used for the main object is used to provide support for the overhang during the 3D printing process, then removed. This often leaves imperfect surfaces and other structural problems in the finished object. Scaffold was optimised to be used as a support material, due to its solubility allowing for incredibly easy removal. This solubility also makes it an ideal material for 3D printing core molds, i.e. internal molds that are used to create the shape of a hollow object. E3D wanted to test this application of Scaffold further, examining its potential for use in the production of objects made from composite materials.
Composites - Material - Properties - Material - Kevlar
Composites are regularly used in manufacturing due to their improved material properties. A composite material such as Kevlar, for example, is used for bulletproof vests due to its being both extremely strong and relatively light. Ceramics and fiberglass are two other commonly used composite materials. In this case, E3D was experimenting with making objects out of carbon fiber.
The method used was to 3D print a core mold for a particular object with Scaffold filament, which was then covered in layers of carbon fiber, pre-impregnated with a special resin. Placing the mold and the carbon fiber inside a vacuum...
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