7/7/16 – This post is written by four students in the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA who are exploring business opportunities associated with waste streams and overconsumption. To start, they have been partnering with Vartega Carbon Fiber Recyling LLC, focusing on industrial options.
Our team is conducting market research in partnership with Vartega Carbon Fiber Recycling LLC, with the goal of understanding the applications of recycled carbon fiber in the 3D printing industry. A quick description of our partner: Vartega is a technology development company specializing in the carbon fiber-reinforced plastic recycling process. Vartega has developed alternative technology, processes, and equipment to provide low-cost carbon fiber for use in mass market applications. So far, Vartega is in the patent pending process and is evaluating different markets for the application of their recycled carbon fiber.
Because the Aerospace industry requires 5 years of testing and certification for usage of new applications, Vartega will look into that market in future phases. So far they aim to strongly focus on entering the 3D printing industry. Due to fast prototyping and the new applications of carbon fiber in the printing process, this market represents the most convenient entrance and product placement for Vartega. In order to evaluate the opportunities of entering the 3D printing market, we have conducted secondary and primary market research.
Our secondary research included information about:
- new applications of composites in the additive industry
- innovations implemented in the composites industry
- innovations in recycling composites
- the entire recycling process.
Our primary research began on May 23rd at the Society of Advanced Materials and Processes Engineering (SAMPE) conference, where we networked with the big players in the aerospace and automotive industries, including BOEING, Hexcel, Lockheed Martin, and Impossible Objects. One of the highlights of the conference was our meeting with the NASA Marshall Space Center Director, Mr. Todd May. Surprisingly, he was familiar with some of the professors at Colorado State University working on composites, which made us proud being CSU grad students!
We have conducted several interviews with companies in the 3D printing and carbon fiber composites industries, and we visited Vartega’s laboratory – all helping fill in the gaps in our knowledge about processes, operations and goals.
Leveraging our student status has helped us in getting replies from big companies, and the network we established at the SAMPE conference has been a tremendous resource for our research. Each of our interviewees offered to help us if we might need any additional information or had follow-up questions. We are working on a thorough report to our partner including information about the outcome of our research, challenges, results and recommendations, and are looking forward to continuing overconsumption and waste market research in a new industry in the coming weeks.