Forging On: Markforged Showcases Strength in 3D Printing at SWW17, Announces Partnership with Hawk Ridge Systems
With some companies, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing, and definitely no such thing as down time. Chatting with Markforged CEO Greg Mark at SOLIDWORKS World 2017 this week, we both laughed as I asked what was new, as it hadn’t been a full month since we last talked at CES in Las Vegas, where the Metal X 3D printer was unveiled. Still, with about a month now under the Metal X’s belt, there were some new parts to show off at the booth — and the team certainly hasn’t been taking it easy since their product announcement, as this show brought with it another piece of news from their business end.
“We’re laser focused on this machine,” Mark told me of the Metal X. “We’ve sold a bunch of these things since we last saw you. Its killer application is making molds.”
The metal 3D printer packs a punch for a machine that fits on the desktop, and fits in well with their line of high-strength 3D printing solutions. Working still with the Ducati bike they’ve been featuring for a bit, Mark showed me another piece they’ve created for it, to go along with the metal 3D printed clutch parts, and noted that a huge benefit for machine shops is in taking out steps from previous manufacturing methods. Use of these 3D printers can take a job back from about six machining operations to one quick one for the part he showed me. Shops are already used to machining all their parts, but cutting back steps and working with a strong part that just needs to be finished “fits well into a workflow they already do, and know, well. They can just print it, then do that thing they already do to finish it.” Bringing metal 3D printing technology to machine shops is becoming more of a possibility because of the price point of the Metal X, which, starting at under $100,000, is significantly more affordable than many other metal additive manufacturing systems.
“At $1 million, machine shops couldn’t afford metal 3D printing. At $100K, now they’re eating them up,” he told me. “This is the first time metal AM has been cheaper than CNC and it’s been fun — and it’s been a lot of work.”
The Metal X is taking pre-orders now, with shipment anticipated for September. Mark noted as well that “our guys have been printing more” on all their units, including a shroud for a jet engine part one of the engineers is working on in his spare time. The strength of parts from Markforged systems is what they’re really known for, and the team have been innovating seemingly nonstop lately. Within the last four months alone, in addition to the most recent addition of the Metal X, Markforged has also introduced the Onyx 3D printer series and the industrial Mark X 3D printer. A major strength of the company lies in the people behind the innovations, as Mark notes:
“We basically throw engineers in every position here. Most of the Markforged marketing team are engineers. We think it’s a strategic advantage.”
The strength in the company is noticeable not only in the reinforced and metal parts coming off their 3D printers and the team behind the innovations, but in the strengths of the relationships they form. At SOLIDWORKS World, Markforged announced a new partnership with Hawk Ridge Systems. Mark was especially enthusiastic about the partnership, as Hawk Ridge has a lot to offer; we’ve previously seen them developing new tools for SOLIDWORKS, along with establishing reseller partnerships with new systems in the industry. Hawk Ridge is known as the world’s largest SOLIDWORKS value-added reseller — and now they will be providing sales, service, and support for the line of 3D printers from Markforged, encompassing the Metal X, Mark X, Onyx Series, and Mark Two, as well as materials and their Eiger software.
“These guys are awesome,” Mark told me of the deal. “They have a huge amount of reach, huge amount of resources. We look for people with not just a big customer base, but people who work with and really support their customers. There’s resellers and then there’s value added resellers — who really build long-term relationships with their customers. Those are the ones we really want to focus on.”
Hawk Ridge was founded in 1996, bringing two decades of engineering and technical expertise; they boast “the largest, most dedicated technical support team, with a 2:1 ratio of engineers to sales” in their bid to stand out with superior service offerings. The company offers training from certified SOLIDWORKS and CAMWorks instructors in classroom and online environments, along with a solutions portfolio built on partnerships “with Dassault Systèmes, CAMWorks, and 3D Systems to offer the full design to manufacture solution portfolio.” For its part, Hawk Ridge also expresses great enthusiasm at this new partnership.
“Hawk Ridge Systems is thrilled to partner with Markforged,” Dale Ford, President and CEO of Hawk Ridge Systems, said. “They have been designing and manufacturing new technologies and materials for 3D printing for several years. Hawk Ridge is excited to help bring these break-through solutions to market. When we first saw their 3D printers at SOLIDWORKS World in 2014, we realized it was only a matter of time before we brought this cost-effective technology to our customers. With the founder’s strong background in SOLIDWORKS, we knew that they were designing products with our customers in mind.”
Announcing the partnership at SWW17 allowed for the companies to focus on the value that SOLIDWORKS has brought to each, and how that shared foundation in 3D design is rooted in a community of enthusiastic users.
“With their reputation, capabilities, and scale as the largest SOLIDWORKS Value-Add Reseller in the world, Hawk Ridge Systems is a fantastic key partner for us on the West Coast and Canada,” Mark said. “Their investment in sales, service, and support for 3D printing solutions, plus their dedication to their SOLIDWORKS and CAMWorks customer base was a key factor in making the partnership decision.”
Companies coming together over technology in partnerships like this is a testament to, ultimately, the importance of the customer as the focus remains on providing not only the best in hardware and software, but in service, training, and relationships. Hawk Ridge Systems offers Markforged technology here. Discuss in the Markforged forum at 3DPB.com.[All photos taken at SWW17 by Sarah Goehrke for 3DPrint.com]
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