Spokane Journal of Business

Continuous Composites agrees to partnership

Cd’A manufacturer, big French company strike multiyear deal

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A local developer and manufacturer of 3D printing robotic arms says it has partnered with a global company, allowing it to expand on its work.

Coeur d’Alene-based Continuous Composites has forged a relationship with Arkema Inc., which Continuous Composites CEO Tyler Alvarado says will enable it to combine its patented continuous fiber 3D printing technology with Arkema’s photocurable resin solutions.

Headquartered in Paris, Arkema S.A. reported $8.8 billion in annual sales last year. The company has 20,000 employees in more than 50 countries.

“They found us three years ago and expressed a strong interest in the work we are doing,” Alvarado says. “The first year or two, they observed us, watching our technology evolve. By December of last year, we began working together.”

The multi year partnership will allow Continuous Composites to speed up its manufacturing process and reduce manufacturing costs with composite materials.

Located at 215 E. Lakeside, in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Continuous Composites designs and manufactures 3D printing to build composite parts for a multitude of uses. It currently employs 30 people.

Strands of material, such as carbon fiber, fiberglass, and Kevlar, are layered atop each other using a robotic arm, during which a resin is cured using ultraviolet light, eliminating the need for a mold or to bake the part in an autoclave for several hours.

Alvarado cites the example of a passenger airliner, where structural composites are manufactured for external parts compared to nonstructural composites used for the plane’s interior.

“The structural composites are going to be high strength; able to sustain mid-air flight and withstand high heat,” he says. “Nonstructural composites are going to be used in the plane’s interior. The partition separating first and second class, for example, requires resins that will reduce toxicity in the event of fire and smoke.”

Continuous Composites also can print using fiber optics, copper wire, and nichrome wire, which can be used to embed sensors, circuits, and heating, respectively, into composites during the printing process, Alvarado says.

Continuous Composites claims it owns the world’s earliest granted patents on printing with continuous fibers with its 3D printing technology. 

Kevin Blocker
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