This is the week of the SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego, Ca, and so far there have been quite a few pretty groundbreaking announcements from the convention. Last night we got the announcement from Stratasys, pertaining to their multi-material, multi-color printers, and this afternoon we got to take a look at a printer which is the first ever carbon fiber extruding 3D printer on the market.
It’s called the “Mark One,” and is manufactured by MarkForged. Gregory Mark, the President of MarkForged, also co-owns Aeromation, which is another tech company responsible for manufacturing computer controlled race car wings. The wings are typically made out of carbon fiber because of its lack of weight, and durability. Mark found that it is quite a daunting task to manufacture parts out of carbon fiber because of the time and expense in laying the fiber down, piece by piece, in the production process. That’s what sparked the initial drive for him to pursue a 3D printer which could simply print the material.
The Mark One printer can print in four different materials, one at a time, which includes carbon fiber, fiberglass, PLA, and nylon.
We took the idea of 3D printing, that process of laying things down strand by strand, and we used it as a manufacturing process to make composite parts,” he told PopMech. “We say it’s like regular 3D printers do the form. We do form and function, said Mark.
Here are the specs of the Mark One printer, announced this afternoon:
Printing Technology: Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) / Composite Filament Fabrication (CFF)
Build Size: 305mm x 160mm x 160mm (12″ x 6.25″ x 6.25″, 486ci)
Material Compatibility: Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, Nylon, PLA
Highest Layer Resolution: FFF Printing: 100 Microns / CFF Printing: 200 Microns
Extruders: Dual Quick Change
Filament Sizes: FFF: 1.75mm, CFF: MF4
Pause / Resume Prints: Yes
Software: Cloud Enabled
Supported OS: Mac OS 10.7 Lion +, Win XP+, Linux*
Supported Browser: Chrome 30+, Firefox 10+, Safari 6+*
Supported Files: STL, .OBJ
Connectivity: WiFi, USB, SD Card
The printer itself is very simple and elegant. Produced mainly for manufacturers, the price tag of $5000 may put it within range of some do-it-yourselfers. There could be hundreds or thousands of applications for this new technology, especially within the prosthetic industry, as carbon fiber is the perfect material for prosthesis. Pre-orders begin next month, and the first shipments will go our before the second half of this year.
Take part in the discussion around the Mark One Printer, at 3DPrintBoard.com here: http://3dprintboard.com/showthread.php?1551-Mark-One-Carbon-Fiber-3D-Printer