Composite manufacturing - Dassault Systèmes®

Composite manufacturing

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Composite manufacturing with 3DEXPERIENCE Make

From plywood to aircraft wings, composites can be found throughout modern society and are increasingly being used in place of traditional materials like wood and metal.

For millennia, humans have been combining different materials to create something that is more durable, flexible and capable than their constituent parts.

Composite manufacturing dates back to ancient brick-making when straw was added to wet clay or mud to accelerate the drying time and provide a stronger finished brick. Metal reinforcement bars in concrete structures perform much the same function. Concrete, the second most used material in the world after water, is itself a composite of loose stones and cement.

The primary reason for making composites is enhanced strength, as in the examples above, but it’s not the only one. For instance, a composite material may be less expensive, lighter, water and heat-resistant, more rigid, electrically conductive or a combination.  

Modern composites have been designed to fulfill a specific need and are routinely used in industries such as aerospace, automotive, defence, marine, medical devices and sports equipment.

Common examples include engineered wood, carbon fiber, fiberglass, fibre-reinforced plastics and advanced ceramics. The list of composites is constantly growing as researchers experiment with different material combinations and develop new varieties, processes and applications.     

On 3DEXPERIENCE Make, we offer composite manufacturing options across multiple processes such as 3D printing, CNC machining, Laser cutting and Injection molding. 3DEXPERIENCE Make is an On-Demand Manufacturing platform, which connects designers or engineers with industrial service providers. Our service providers are mostly based in North America (United States and Canada) and in Europe (United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Germany etc...). 

Thanks to our powerful algorithm, you can get quotes in seconds for your composite project from dozens of manufacturing providers.

3DEXPERIENCE Make

Our network of composite manufacturing providers

A large network of Industrial composite manufacturers across Europe and North America

United States

Canada

United Kingdom

France

Germany

Netherlands 

and many more...

100+
Industrial composite manufacturers
MAP 3D Printing services Europe for 3DEXPERIENCE Make

Composite manufacturing: how does it work?

how does it work

Composite materials available with our service providers

Composite materials for 3D printing processes

  • Plastic Glass fiber
  • Plastic Kevlar
  • ABS Carbon fiber
  • Gypsum
  • PA Glass
  • PA Aluminium
  • PA Carbon fiber
  • Plastic Carbon fiber
  • PLA Wood
  • PLA Copper
  • Plastic Fibers
  • Plastic Glass

Composite materials for CNC machining processes

  • PC Glass
  • PA Glass

Composite materials for Cutting, Molding & Forming processes

  • PA Glass

What are the composite manufacturing processes available at 3DEXPERIENCE Make?

3D Printing - Additive manufacturing

FDM, SLS, MJF, BJ, SLA...

Cutting

Laser cutting, Water cutting, Blade

CNC Machining - Substractive

Milling, turning & spark machining

Forming

Sheet Metal, Extrusion, Forming, Stamping

Features to help you

Check & repair or Geometry check is a feature that helps you to understand Geometry issue of your part and could repair it live and online.

Check & Repair

Check & repair or Geometry check is a feature that helps you to detect geometry issue on your part and repair it online and live.

Manufacturability Check

This feature is available only for 3D Printing service. It helps you check the manufacturability of your part, depending on the materials and the process.

Instant quote engine

Receive in seconds several quotes thanks to our instant quote engine.

Composite materials: the most commons

Composites can be classified based on the reinforcement material or by the surrounding matrix. Examples include:

  • Fiber-reinforced composites (FRCs)
  • Particulate reinforced composites
  • Polymer matrix composites (PMCs)
  • Metal matrix composites (MMCs)
  • Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs)
  • Carbon matrix composites (CAMCs)

Common composites include:

  • Concrete – The most widely used artificial composite, typically composed of loose stones (aggregate) bound with a cement matrix. Concrete is a vital construction material and more than 20 billion tons are used globally every year to construct buildings, bridges, roads and numerous other structures.
  • Plywood – Composed of multiple thin layers (plies) of wood veneer glued and compressed together to form sheets. Veneers are glued with their wood grains rotated at 90 degrees to one another (cross-graining) to enhance the strength of the finished material and to reduce expansion and contraction.

Plywood is classified as an engineered or manufactured wood, the same family as medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and particle board (or chipboard). Plywood is available in various grades and strengths depending on the wood species used to manufacture it.

  • Fiberglass – A common type of fiber-reinforced plastic using glass fiber. The glass fibers are embedded by either compressing them into a flat sheet, randomly arranging them or interweaving them. The matrix is usually a thermoset polymer, such as epoxy, polyester resin, vinylester resin or a thermoplastic.

Fiberglass is usually a more cost-effective and flexible alternative to the fiber-reinforced composite, carbon fiber. It is also stronger than many metals, non-magnetic and can be molded into complex shapes. It is sometimes referred to as Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP), Glass-Fiber Reinforced Plastic (GFRP), or GFK (from German: Glasfaserverstärkter Kunststoff).

  • Carbon fiber – An extremely strong, lightweight fiber-reinforced plastic that is strengthened with carbon fibers. The binder in carbon fiber is generally a thermoset resin such as epoxy but can also be thermoplastic polymers like polyester, vinylester or nylon.

Carbon fiber is sometimes called graphite-reinforced polymer or graphite fiber-reinforced polymer. Other names include carbon (Fiber) reinforced Plastic or Carbon Fiber Reinforced Thermoplastic (CFRP, CRP, CFRTP) or simply carbon composite.

  • Aramid-Fiber reinforced composite – Made with heat-resistant, strong synthetic aramid fibers in a polymer matrix. It is not as strong as carbon fiber but better suited for some applications due to being less brittle. It is more commonly known unde the brand names such as Kevlar or Nomex, and is often used for aerospace, defence and marine applications.

How are composite materials used in 3D printing?

3D printing, sometimes referred to as additive manufacturing, covers a number of different processes and techniques. All involve a material being deposited in multiple thin layers to create a shape.

The entire process is computer-controlled, which makes 3D printing a cost-effective and efficient method to create objects of almost any shape or size. Increasingly, the technique is being employed to produce everything from models and proof of concepts to finished objects.

Using plastic material, 3D printing can be traced back to the 1980s, whereas composite 3D printing arrived much more recently.  

There are currently only a handful of processes involved with 3D printing composites:

  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM) – This is the most common method of composite 3D printing. A nozzle extrudes a filament of molten plastic onto the part. The plastic will typically be either polylactic acid (PLA), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), Nylon, polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG) or polyether ether ketone (PEEK).
  • Chopped fiber FDM – Here, short pieces of glass or carbon fiber are integrated into the filament. The addition of these fibers makes for a stronger finished piece and may mean the printing process can be done without additional support structures.
  • Continuous fiber FDM – This is similar to chopped fiber FDM but with a long, continuous strand of glass or carbon fiber. One way of delivering the fiber is through a secondary nozzle.
  • Selective laser sintering (SLS) – This technique employs a laser to fuse fine powder into complex and functional models. This is generally believed to deliver the greatest design freedom of all 3D printing techniques, with the final product being strong yet relatively flexible.

Several 3D printer manufacturers have developed their own printable composite materials:

  • Alumide material is a blend of polyamide and a very low quantity of gray aluminum and is typically used with SLS. The material is capable of producing complex models that are strong and relatively rigid yet can absorb small impacts and resist some bending pressue. It is well-suited for those seeking affordability, maximum design freedom, and greater printing capabilities.
  • Fiber-reinforced Nylon makes it possible to 3D print objects that are as strong as aluminum at the cost of plastic. The material is ideal for functional prototypes and tests, structural parts, jigs, fixtures, and tooling; but isn’t suitable for small or intricate parts.
  • Full-color sandstone is made from a soft mineral called gypsum and incorporates a colored texture on the surface. It is particularly well suited for architectural models, lifelike sculptures and memorabilia. However, the material's brittleness restricts its use for more functional or intricately designed parts.

Discover our other materials for manufacturing

Metal

Aluminium, Nickel, Stainless, Steel, Titanium, etc...

Plastic

ABS, POM(Acetal/Deltin), PEEK, PTFE, HDPE, PEI, PC, PP, etc...

Wax

Wax support, UV Curvable, etc...

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