Print the world

Photo: Guillaume Levasseur Duty
The objective of the phd students Ilyass Tabiai (left) and Yahya Abderrafai (right) and their business partner is to develop polymers and composites to advanced that will push the current frontiers of the 3D printing world.

Behind the door of the laboratory of mechanical multi-scales of the École polytechnique de Montréal, a lot of enthusiasm and dynamism fleet, as suspended in the middle of the machines. Difficult to stop Ilyass Tabiai and Yahya Abderrafai once they are launched. These two brains then linked the ideas, as the filament comes out of their 3D printer.

The two phd candidates and business partners (with Roland Delorme, co-founder of their company’s 3D TRIP) specialize in the invention of the filament generation. Their objective : develop polymer and composite edge with which to repel the actual borders of the world of 3D printing.

The adventure starts in 2014. Initially, they apply to the architectural model. In front of them, a promising market for architects who want to reduce the costs, in time and in money, of the manufacturing model. On the basis of this project, they founded the company 3D TRIP. They won in the wake of the Challenge of Entrepreneurship Diversity Poly-UdeM. A launch pad that propels them in the business world.

Photo: Guillaume Levasseur Duty
A lot of development left to do in the world of the industry of 3D printing to that which is today accessible to individuals being applicable to the big players.

Soon enough, they were faced with their reality of students : pursue a phd and a company is a huge challenge. That is too broad. “We wanted to refocus on something more realistic,” says Yahya Abderrafai. The common point of our fields of respective research was the material. At the same time, realizing that the dimension of the 3D printing was much less the subject of research projects the printers. Naturally, our expertise has led us to focus on the design of new materials. “

3D TRIP was first made in the marketing of filaments manufactured by other. Opportunity for the three accomplices to test the strengths and limitations of these materials. Opportunity also to get acquainted with the world of business and expand their network. Today, the company is a bit offensive in terms of sales, more research oriented. For better return to the charge once new materials will be developed.

The idea behind the filament of the future is to combine the properties of different materials so as to enjoy their benefits without having to cope with their disadvantages. The PLA (biodegradable plastic commonly used in 3D printing) lets give it to just about any form, but it is not the most solid. Combine carbon, not printable in a pure state, will give a composite that is more resistant. “We gain strength, or at very high temperatures, for example. If it is mixed with the graphene in the plastic, one obtains a material conductor of electricity. With the glass fibre, it gains in thermal conductivity “, explains Ilyass Tabiai. “Imagine that the electrical cables in the aircraft are not entirely metal, but rather composed of filaments, combining a plastic and a metal. They would be lighter, so it would reduce the weight of the devices. Here, it is key to fuel savings. “

The world of the industry is currently limited in its use of 3D printing. A lot of development remains to be done to what is now accessible and useful to individuals being applicable to the big players. The printer, software and filaments must be adapted. “The manufacturing process which now allows the largest freedom to the molding,” explains Ilyass Tabiai. But it limits the type of shapes that one is able to make, and it is expensive. The wind turbine blades are moulded to the hand because the main material is not printable in 3D. “

They see far away, the three researchers-entrepreneurs who have received in June 2017, the price Entrepreneurs are agents of change award by the organization Mitacs, convinced that 3D printing is participating in a new industrial revolution. On the other side of innovation is a field of applications. “If one is able to print any object, we no longer need to go through the casting or the assembly lines. So we reduced the cost of production. In the end, it is the whole cycle of production which is going to be transformed. The way we produce objects will be the object of a revolution already in motion. “

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