Ahead of its upcoming SPAC merger with one, Markforged has announced new hardware and software releases. The firm says the new Metal X Gen 2, Next Day Metal, and X7 Field Edition are geared toward overcoming supply chain obstacles by ensuring that parts can be made anywhere in the world.
As one could gather from the name, the Metal X Gen 2 is an update to the original Metal X metal 3D printer released in 2017. Upgrades include an external seven-inch touchscreen, door position sensors, and more chamber insulation, which are designed to make the machine more efficient in terms of energy and time.
Along with the new system, the company has announced the release of Next Day Metal across all of the metal 3D printers in its Digital Forge—that is, the firm’s network of Metal X customers around the world. This update will make it possible to 3D print metal parts at twice the speed as in the past. Washing and drying times are now more accurate for smaller components, thus speeding up the debinding cycle. Markforged notes, “These factors, combined with an approximately 17-hour small parts express run on the Sinter-2 post-processing oven, can give manufacturers the parts they need more quickly and — thanks to increased capacity on each printer — allows them to scale their additive manufacturing operation.”
Therefore, this improvement in Next Day Metal will be particularly valuable for manufacturers who produce batches of small parts. As an example, Markforged named a Scottish service bureau, Angus 3D Solutions, which produced wrenches with extremely tight clearances for a client. Because producing such tools with conventional methods would have been taken too long, the company used their Metal X system to 3D print a prototype in just three days, compared to the two-to-three weeks that would have been required with traditional processes. In turn, Angus 3D was able to complete its order on time and save $25,000 in shipping costs. Now, with Next Day Metal, Markforged believes this same job could have been performed overnight.
“The Metal X has been an important part of our business since we first began using it,” said Andy Simpson, Managing Director of Angus 3D Solutions. The Scotland-based print services provider utilizes The Digital Forge platform to produce key parts for its customers — including some of the biggest oil and gas companies in Scotland. “Our customers rely on us to produce specialty parts that can be time-consuming to make and expensive to ship quickly. Our Markforged Metal X printer enables us to fulfill orders in a fast and timely fashion. Next Day Metal unlocks a new level of potential for us to scale our metal printing business and satisfy customer needs on even quicker turnarounds.”
Finally, Markforged has unveiled the new X7 Field Edition (X7 FE). This ruggedized version of its continuous composite 3D printer can be used in remote, difficult terrain. The system comes with a Pelican case made from rotomolded high-impact polyethylene, which protects it while in transit. This case includes all of the necessary tools, spare parts and materials to maintain and repair the 3D printer in the field. Markforged sees this as ideal for use in exploration sites and the theater of war, for which the U.S. Marine Corps XFAB program is already using the X7.
“Manufacturers are up against many challenges in today’s market — from supply chain challenges like rising supply costs and shipping delays to increased pressure from the market to innovate faster and stay ahead of the competition,” said Shai Terem, President and CEO of Markforged. “Since Markforged shipped our first printer, we’ve been committed to quality and continuous improvement, always looking for simpler, smarter, and more robust ways to empower our customers to build anything they can imagine. The addition of the Metal X (Gen 2), Next Day Metal, and the X7 FE to our Digital Forge are important steps towards reinventing manufacturing today so that we are all more resilient tomorrow anywhere in the world.”
It definitely makes sense that Markforged is jumping into the rugged 3D printer game, alongside the likes of nScrypt, as its printers are already highly used by the U.S. military apparatus. Given the utility of industrial-grade extrusion system to various military units, we will see more manufacturers following this trend. Markforged is simply ahead of the curve.
The Metal X Gen 2 and Next Day Metal are already available, while the X7 FE is available for pre-order and will begin shipping in the fall.
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