Owens Corning Wins Big with XStrand

CAMX Award winner creates functional composite parts using a state-of-the-art material and process innovation. Produced and presented annually at the …

CAMX Award winner creates functional composite parts using a state-of-the-art material and process innovation.

Produced and presented annually at the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo (CAMX), the CAMX Awards offer the opportunity for organizations and individuals to showcase groundbreaking achievements that have advanced the composites industry through their innovation and application.

As in previous years, the 2018 CAMX Awards featured many strong contenders in every awards category. The Combined Strength Award, one of two CAMX Awards, is presented to the composites product that clearly demonstrates a team approach and effort that brings together knowledge, resources, and talent to produce an outstanding example of the best use of composites materials to solve a problem. The 2018 Combined Strength award was presented to Owens Corning for its entry “Creating functional composite parts using a state-of-the-art material and process innovation called XSTRAND™”.

XSTRAND and Functional Prototyping

Over the past two years, Owens Corning worked to develop a range of technical 3D printing filament products. These innovative products, made from glass reinforced composite filament, are specially formulated to allow the incorporation of fiber reinforcement into polymers for use in fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers. Parts produced from XSTRAND are highly durable, have good chemical and UV resistance, excellent layer adhesion and reduced warping effect, and can be put into service in industrial settings for an extended period. This transformation propels FFF (or FDM) fabrication into the environment of functional prototyping and beyond.

ACMA spoke with Ross Cunningham, Advanced Scientist, Front End Innovation at Owens Corning, about the implications of XSTRAND on 3D printing and the composites industry. “An advantage of 3D printing is that it rapidly shortens the innovation cycle and time to market.
The 3D printing industry has undergone a materials revolution and required high-strength, wear-resistant materials that would stand up to industrial use. XSTRAND fulfills that need.”

“Combined with the injection molding process, we can produce low volume custom parts on an as-needed basis that is cost effective. Owens Corning uses composites extensively for prototyping. XSTRAND has enabled us to dramatically reduce the time associated with the development cycle.”

The development of XSTRAND was a joint effort with Ultimaker, a leading manufacturer of open source 3D printers. Cunningham says, “This is a perfect example of partnership, one that is growing every day. As our channel partner, Ultimaker is close with our customers and understand their needs – they helped identify new XSTRAND products.”

“We work closely with them to make sure their technology and processes are compatible with our materials, and that our materials work well on their printers. Users simply click “XSTRAND” in their Ultimaker printer software and those printer settings are already configured.”

Participating at CAMX

Being a part of CAMX was exciting and energizing for the XSTRAND team from an innovation standpoint. “It really helped open everyone’s eyes and validate our push to innovate and make some waves. ACMA is invaluable to Owens Corning because it works towards greater adoption of composites and helps potential composites users understand the industry.”

What’s Next for the Front-End Innovation Team

Cunningham sees the trend in 3D printing moving towards higher-end materials such as thermoplastics, and larger parts that will support pushing more boundaries. He and his team are working on releasing a polycarbonate version of XSTRAND. Cunningham observes that the industry is growing rapidly and there are many more ways to use composites.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of the composites industry, with breakthrough innovations, new value creation and new products in sectors such as energy, building construction and infrastructure. Using composites means longer part life, higher strength and higher temperature requirements–all at reduced cost.