Sponsored By

The Swiss startup has developed a cost-competitive process that allows structural carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic (CFRP) parts to replace metals in aerospace, automotive, healthcare, and other demanding applications.

Stephen Moore

February 23, 2022

2 Min Read
3D printing resin
Image courtesy of 9T Labs

Replacing metal with a 3D-printed thermoplastic composite will allow manufacturers to build lighter vehicles and aircrafts that consume less fuel and reduce CO2 emissions. To this end, Solvay Ventures, the venture capital fund of Solvay, is investing in Zurich-based startup 9T Labs to bring additive manufacturing of carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic (CFRP) parts to mass production. Current 9T Labs’ material offerings include polyamide (PA 12) and polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) matrix resins with up to 60% carbon fiber (HexTow AS4 PAN-based fiber from Hexcel) loading.

9T Labs’ hybrid manufacturing technology enables complex, high-performance structural parts to be produced in CFRP in volumes up to thousands of parts per year. It provides a cost-competitive alternative to metals in demanding applications in many sectors such as aerospace, automotive, and healthcare.

“9T Labs combines the flexibility and optimization potential of 3D printing with the mechanical performance of compression-molded parts, bringing the best of both additive and conventional manufacturing to the world of advanced materials,” said Thomas Canova, Head of Technology Scouting and Venturing at Solvay.

This technology complements Solvay’s diverse portfolio of high-performance thermoplastic polymers and expertise in the production of thermoplastic composite prepreg tape to make the next big leap. As a leader in thermoplastic composites, Solvay also brings unparalleled expertise in the engineering of material solutions to ensure the technology can be integrated seamlessly into the manufacturing lines of 9T Labs’ customers.

“For the fabrication of small and complex parts, metals still prevail because the manufacturing of structural CFRP parts has not been cost-competitive or, in a lot of cases, technologically feasible,” added Martin Eichenhofer, 9T Labs co-founder and CEO. “Our technology combined with Solvay’s high-performance and recyclable materials will change this and make CFRP parts more sustainable, accessible, and cost-competitive, especially at higher volumes. In addition, the participation of Solvay Ventures in a consortium of high-caliber investors provides us with the funds to rapidly scale our business.”

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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