Composite 3D Printing Gets a Boost from Hexcel
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on June 02, 2016 | 5447 views

Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) has just received an investment from Hexcel Corporation that will expand upon an existing relationship between the two Connecticut-based companies. While OPM has already established itself as a provider of 3D-printed aerospace and medical components, Hexcel is a supplier of composite materials for aerospace, space and defense applications. The investment will in part be used to drive OPM’s production of 3D-printed parts made from Hexcel’s carbon fiber material.

Aerospace components 3D printed by OPM. (Image courtesy of OPM.)

Aerospace components 3D printed by OPM. (Image courtesy of OPM.)

As an expert producer of poly-ether-ketone-ketone (PEKK) material, OPM utilizes its brand of selective laser sintering for the 3D printing of PEKK parts. The company is well-known for having had three 3D-printed medical implants cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for medical use. Having met a number of industry compliance standards, the company has also implemented its 3D printing services for the production of aerospace and industrial components.

Given the fact that Hexcel is also a materials manufacturer based in Connecticut, the partners were ideally matched. OPM has already used Hexcel’s carbon fiber in its OXFAB ESD compound, a carbon-filled PEKK material meant for use in demanding industrial applications. The dual strengths of carbon fiber and PEKK have enabled OPM to 3D print structural components for satellite and aerospace applications. The investment will give OPM further fuel with which to develop its composite materials for 3D printing.

Scott DeFelice, chairman and CEO of OPM, said of the investment, “Hexcel represents the gold standard in carbon fiber and composite material technologies, and our core target markets are extremely complementary. Hexcel’s investment in OPM will help enable us to further expand production capacity to meet rapidly growing market demand for our OXFAB technology. In addition, this investment sets the stage for joint technology collaboration and business development efforts with Hexcel.”

Nick Stanage, CEO and president of Hexcel, added, “Aerospace adoption of reinforced manufactured parts using Hexcel carbon fiber is becoming a viable and meaningful design solution due to its performance and processing advantages. With the adoption of these lightweight, high-performing materials expected to accelerate, this is an ideal opportunity for our two companies to work together enabling faster product development and adoption for our customers.”

Interestingly, EnvisionTEC just recently unveiled its massive composites 3D printer, as companies like Impossible Objects, MarkForged and Arevo Labs develop their own composite 3D printing technology. Though Hexcel did not disclose how much it had invested in OPM, it’s becoming clear that the field of composites 3D printing is starting to become quite an active place. 

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