Rapid Prototype Tooling For Rapid Composite Manufacturing

H. Watts
Mississippi State University,
United States

Keywords: additive manufacturing, thermoset, 3D printing, composites


Additive manufacturing has taken off in recent years and has come a long way to help alleviate supply chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic. One sector of manufacturing that has not seen relief is composites. The composite manufacturing process requires high-performance tooling that typically carries a high cost and lead time. Mississippi State University's Advanced Composites Institute has partnered with Polynt Resins and Magnum Venus Products to transform traditional composite prototyping and manufacturing. MSU's ACI is actively producing large-scale composite quality molds quickly and cost-effectively using Reactive Additive Manufacturing (RAM) printing. RAM printing uses the energy from mixing a resin and catalyst to cure the thermoset material rather than using a heated bed or nozzle, drastically cutting energy consumption. Using Polynt's specially formulated RAM resins and MVP's RAM printer, ACI can create high-temp concept-to-production composite tooling in as little as three weeks at a fraction of the cost of traditional metallic tooling. This breakthrough in rapid tooling allows for previously unthinkable applications. As research on RAM printing continues, more applications are becoming apparent. RAM tooling can currently enable the military to manufacture composite parts while deployed to repair air and land vehicles, further helping to cut down on the military's vehicle obsolescence issues. ACI is currently working on getting more manufacturers involved with RAM printing to alleviate composite supply chain issues, reduce manufacturing lead time and cost, and enable new applications by our nation's military and space programs.