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Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have become the first to 3D print aerospace-grade carbon fiber composites, representing a significant advance in the development of micro-extrusion 3D printing techniques for carbon fiber.

A carbon fiber composite ink extrudes from a customized direct ink writing (DIW) 3D printer, eventually building part of a rocket nozzle.

The ability to 3D print offers new degrees of freedom for carbon fiber, enabling control over the parts' mesostructure. The material also is conductive, allowing for directed thermal channeling within a structure. The resultant material could be used to make high-performance airplane wings, satellite components that are insulated on one side and don't need to be rotated in space, or wearables that can draw heat from the body but don't allow it in.

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