Imagine the thrill of running faster by lacing up your favorite athletic shoes. Or the relief you feel when your phone smacks the pavement without a scratch.
Lighter, stronger, better impact resistance — those are qualities we expect of superior products.
But superior products often come at a steep price. Materials, design, and fabrication processes can be quite costly. Composites have eluded mass production in industries such as consumer electronics, sports, and fashion where high-performance composite parts have been historically cost-prohibitive.
But a new ground-breaking process has the potential to reshape the way we design, manufacture, and even recycle products.
Say hello to Arris Composites
U.S. advanced manufacturing pioneer Arris has developed a powerful new Additive Molding™ process. This technology combines elements of additive manufacturing and molding into a single, efficient process. With Additive Molding™, composite fibers are precisely aligned with the stress vectors within a part to optimize the structure’s performance.
“Carbon fiber is one of the highest performance materials available, but high-cost manufacturing processes have kept it exclusive to extreme performance applications, like aircraft and premium automobiles,” says Ethan Escowitz, CEO and Founder of Arris.
Additive Molding™ is a highly automated process that scales quickly and easily. The process minimizes costs associated with materials and labor. As a result, the mass production of high-strength, light-weight composite parts for a variety of applications is now within reach of manufacturers. They’re now advancing programs that deliver superior products to consumers at a competitive price point.
“Exciting developments are taking place in several industries right now,” says Escowitz. “Industrial and automotive companies can develop corrosion-proof, high-strength, and durable glass fiber and carbon fiber structures. Top consumer and sporting goods brands are elevating product performance and differentiation. And consumer electronics companies are designing lighter, smaller, and smarter next-generation devices.”
Beyond the advent of new high-performance, mass-market products, high-speed molding of advanced composites delivers two added benefits that transform the way we approach both product design and environmental stewardship.
A design revolution across markets
By combining the design flexibility of additive manufacturing and the performance benefits of composites with the speed and scalability of molding, Arris has the potential to revolutionize product design across many markets.
Teams can “think outside the sandbox,” molding virtually any shape they can imagine, without being constrained by the limitations of existing technologies. They can align metals, glass, and even electronics with carbon fibers along load paths within a complex 3D part. Design and engineering teams now have the freedom to creatively place the right materials in the right locations, elegantly solving for form and function.
Lighter, stronger composite parts lead to outstanding results.
Consumer products and electronics companies can create stylish, integrated products — watches, glasses, and footwear — which are lighter and stronger with improved impact resistance. Automakers and aerospace manufacturers can create advanced composite structures that optimize strength to weight ratios, improving efficiency, durability, and safety.
Given those impressive results, it’s not surprising that 3rd-party accolades have followed.
Last October, Arris announced that its Additive Molding™ Carbon Fiber Truss won the Red Dot: Design Concept 2020 Award. Arris’ carbon fiber truss doubles the specific stiffness of a steel I-beam while adding material benefits like corrosion resistance and the opportunity for functional integration into the structure. It’s also recyclable — a breakthrough for advanced composites and critical for mass production.
Additive Molding™ supports a circular economy
Global demand for consumer goods — and the potential waste associated with their consumption — raises a number of sustainability issues. That brings us to the second important benefit of Additive Molding™.
Mass production is often viewed as being fundamentally at odds with sustainable environmental practices. Manufacturing can generate an immense amount of waste very rapidly. But Arris’ breakthrough process enables cradle-to-cradle manufacturing, which supports a circular economy, i.e., one that focuses on eliminating waste and minimizing consumption of finite resources.
By vertically integrating materials and final product production, Arris enables an unprecedented degree of control during fabrication. For instance, manufacturers can run continuous fiber paths around product features, instead of cutting it out to conform to those features. By eliminating this cutting step, Additive Molding™ uses far less physical material and generates zero scrap compared to processes found on traditional manufacturing floors.
In addition to minimizing waste, Arris employs a new generation of recyclable composites and a patent-pending recycling process that takes an end-of-life part and turns it into raw materials for the next generation. The company has developed a novel method of designing products with the end of life in mind. As a result, the waste stream from today’s products becomes the feedstock for future ones.
Investing in the future
In our view, it’s never been acceptable to mass produce goods without attending to downstream effects of manufacturing. At Valo Ventures, we’re committed to supporting sustainable business and environmental practices.
One of our jobs as investors is to continuously look for entrepreneurs and startups who are disrupting technologies, markets, and entire industries. Even seemingly small innovations in the fabrication process can have a big positive impact on the world.
Arris empowers users to test the bounds of product design, employs autonomy in its processes, and delivers on the promise of recyclability and sustainability, all of which are essential to building a circular economy that benefits everyone, now and in the future.
To learn more about Valo Ventures and our approach to investing, please visit our website.