3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process used to make a solid object from a three-dimensional digital model, usually by laying down several successive thin layers of a material. In recent years, developers have found ways to print composite materials, such as carbon fiber and fiberglass, which improve the durability and structure of 3D-printed items. While the technology of 3D printing composite materials is not mainstreamed yet, many manufacturers have begun to use it to print everything from vehicle and aircraft parts to the walls of future buildings. Composite materials are preferred above some traditional materials because of their strong, lightweight, and more affordable properties. Composite material is a material consisting of two or more constituent materials with very different physical and chemical properties. When combined, they produce characteristics that are different from each variable.
The two constituent materials can be divided into two categories: The matrix (binder) and the reinforcement. A composite material requires a matrix and reinforcement. The matrix is used to support the reinforcement material by surrounding it so that it can maintain its relative position. The reinforcement relies on its special mechanical and physical properties to strengthen the properties of the matrix. This creates an enhanced synergy that would otherwise not exist in the individual constituent materials. It also enables product designers to optimize the combination of composites. In spite of the relatively high cost, fiber-reinforced composite materials have become prevalent in high-performance products for their lightweight yet powerful properties. They can withstand tough loading conditions in aerospace components, boat and scull hulls, bicycle frames, and racing car bodies. They are also used in fishing rods, storage tanks, pool panels, and baseball bats. The new Boeing 787 construction, including wings and fuselage, is primarily made of composites. These are also gaining prominence in the field of orthopedic surgery.