Israel - The Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition was first previewed at the additive manufacturing event called Rapid 2018, and is now available to purchase for US$70,000. It is dubbed by the company as an "affordably priced additive manufacturing system dedicated for carbon-fiber-filled Nylon 12."

The printer has already been used by Team Penske to produce prototypes and end-use parts for both its IndyCar and Nascar race cars, such as mirror housings. Stratasys expects that demand for the system will come from those making tooling and fixtures for automotive applications, as well as in several other industries like marine and aerospace.

"Our customers are pushing us for easier access to carbon fiber," commented Stratasys senior vice president of sales, Pat Carey. "They’ve told us they want an affordable solution but in a reliable, industrial-quality system. So we’re now offering a more accessible system that’s based on our Fortus 380mc platform. Because the 380mc CFE is dedicated only to carbon-fiber-filled Nylon 12 and one other material, we’re able to currently offer it at the lowest price for any of our industrial printers."

The other material he refers to is ASA thermoplastic - a material that has a tensile strength of 29MPa and is UV resistant.

The potential use cases for 3D printing in the automotive industry are expanding, with many companies now investigating how to use the technology for end-use parts as well as prototypes. GM also recently announced that it was combining the use of design software with 3D printing technology in the hope of transforming vehicle development.

According to Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates, an additive manufacturing industry consultancy, it is therefore a good time for Stratasys to launch the new system. "For many years, the additive manufacturing industry has seen a need for a diversity of machines that produce parts in high-strength composite materials," he stated. "I'm hopeful the newest machine from Stratasys will help to meet this need by offering strong parts in carbon fiber and Nylon 12."