Video: 3D-Printed Composite Hooks Lifts Hundreds of Pounds

AM challenges expectations about which applications and part types call for metal and which are appropriate for polymer.

This video from Roboze, maker of 3D printers and materials, shows a 3D-printed hook used to lift more than 370 pounds (170 kg). As seen in the video, the hook geometry is simple and could have been fashioned using any of various processes—the geometry was not the challenge. Instead, the reason for using additive manufacturing in this case was the material choice. The hook is made of carbon-fiber-filled nylon, a material that becomes easy to apply for small quantities in AM. The video illustrates how the resulting hook is as strong as a more massive steel hook might be.

The important point that this small example illustrates is actually fundamental to the way we have chosen to cover AM. On this site, though we are devoted to industrial manufacturing, we routinely cover additive applications involving both polymer and metal. “Industrial” AM does not necessarily imply or even lean toward metal AM, even in cases where metal is the conventional choice of material for a given type of part, because the boundaries that separate metal and polymer are coming down. Today, thanks to 3D printing, small batches of parts might be produced in plastic rather than machined from metal, polymer material might be appropriate for tooling (including mold tooling and big tools), and as the hook demonstrates, polymer materials can prove to be surprisingly strong.