9T Labs carbon fiber 3D printing with $17 million investment – 3DPrint.com

Start of carbon fiber 3D printing 9T Laboratories has just received a $17 million cash injection in its Series A funding round. This will allow the Swiss company to fully commercialize its additive fusion solution for the manufacture of fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composite parts of carbon (CFRTP).

9T Labs Fusion Module. Image courtesy of 9T Labs.

9T has a unique method for 3D printing CFRTP components, in that the parts are first fabricated in a build module, where a thermoplastic composite tape is laid down layer by layer, then processed in a fusion module , in which metal tooling applies heat and pressure to compress the part. Customers can subscribe to either the building module alone, under the Industrial 3D Printing Solution brand, or both together, under the Additive Fusion Solution brand. By applying post-processing in the fusion module, the stacked layers are more tightly bonded, reducing voids from more than 10% to less than 1%. In total, 9T suggests its technology can be used to 3D print structural parts in volumes ranging from 100 to 100,000 units per year.

Building module from 9T Labs. Image courtesy of 9T Labs.

The “3D Printed Composite Materials Markets – 2018The report by SmarTech Analysis suggests that the 3D printed composites market is expected to represent a $10 billion revenue opportunity by 2028. The market analysis company estimates that extrusion-based composite systems will grow at a rate of 14.15% CAGR from 2018 to 2028. 9T Labs is one of the few companies driving this development.

Among the investors in the round were Stratasys, Solvay Ventures, Verve Ventures, ACE & Company, Zurich Cantonal Bank and Winger Ventures. While Verve focuses on European startups, Wingman is even more narrowly aimed at Swiss companies. Zürcher Kantonalbank is the fourth largest bank in Switzerland and ACE is a global investment fund headquartered in Geneva. Solvay is, of course, a materials company with a significant presence in 3D printing and Stratasys needs no introduction as a pioneer in materials extrusion 3D printing.

“9T Labs has combined the simplicity of 3D printing with the strength of continuous carbon fiber composites, and this is an exciting development for our industry,” said Adam Pawloski, Vice President of Manufacturing Solutions at Stratasys. “Their additive fusion technology leverages the benefits of printing, automated tape laying, and compression molding to deliver fully dense parts with multi-directional reinforcement. In addition, this technology adapts to the volumes of production parts required by mass manufacturers. The end result is a solution with the potential to radically transform the metal industry in favor of composite parts. »

“As a leading supplier of thermoplastic composite technologies, we are excited to bring our materials expertise to help accelerate 9T Labs’ developments in 3D printing to produce structural composite parts,” adds Fabrizio Ponte, head of the Thermoplastic Composites platform, Solvay SA.

Interestingly, Stratasys has spread its money widely as it expands its own technology portfolio. In one case, this led to his acquisition of Xaar 3D. In 2016, he presented a composite 3D printer developed with Siemens called Robotic Composite Demonstrator. Maybe if things go well with 9T, Stratasys could bring the Swiss startup under its belt.

9T Labs is also bringing in John Hartner, former CEO of ExOne, as chairman of its board. Hartner left ExOne when it was acquired by Desktop Metal, a company with its own carbon fiber 3D printing solution. Desktop Metal CEO Ric Fulop meanwhile had a relationship with Markforged, the pioneer of carbon fiber 3D printing technology. If Hartner has gathered any insight into his brief time with Desktop Metal, it’s possible he brings with him a wealth of important knowledge to 9T Labs.

“I was impressed with the company’s unique solution and am excited to help the team bring this technology to manufacturing companies around the world,” said Hartner.

3D printed parts reinforced with carbon fiber. Image courtesy of 9T Labs.

The funding round is intended to help 9T grow so it can help its customers increase volumes, as well as increase hardware options and build new technology platforms. One wonders what new technologies and materials this may include. If we look at the wallets of competitors, we can expect fiberglass, Kevlar, or basalt reinforcement. For new technologies, we might anticipate a metal extrusion system, similar to offerings from Markforged and Desktop Metal. However, 9T Labs co-founder and CEO Martin Eichenhofer seemed to suggest that the metal might not be in the cards yet, as he stated:

“This round of investment and the combined expertise of our partners will allow us to take the next big step in commercialization and fulfill our mission to enable the widespread replacement of metal parts with fully recyclable high-performance carbon composite materials. Thanks With this support, we will be able to demonstrate things that we could not have imagined 10 years ago.