Partnership between AFRL and Universities for Printable Composites

March 25 2019

The Air Force Research Laboratory hosts a diverse group of professors and students from across the USA each year.

In 2018, AFRL’s Composites Branch combined forces with the University of Arkansas, the University of Miami, Louisiana Tech University, and the University of Texas at El Paso to demonstrate additively manufactured epoxy/carbon fiber composites used in many structural parts on air and spacecraft.

In comparison to the low-quality polymers used in many 3D printers, these printed materials are the same type already being used on Air Force systems, which have higher thermal and environmental durability and are extremely strong and lightweight.

Additively manufactured, or printed composites, can produce parts with complex shapes and eliminates the need for the expensive pressure cooker and long heating cycles. The possibility to produce, assemble, or repair parts in the field or at the depot without a long logistics tail is a win-win scenario.

“The potential to quickly print high strength composite parts and fixtures for the warfighter could be a tremendous asset both in the field and for accelerating weapon system development,” said Dr. Jeffery Baur, leader of the Composite Performance Research Team.
International allies, including India, also see the promise. They have formed joint projects to use the composite printing process to make complex core structures which, when combined with top and bottom face sheets, create light weight sandwich structures with properties tailored to the physical forces that need to be carried.

For identifying growth opportunities for Composites in Global Aerospace Market, please visit

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