Markforged (NYSE: MKFG), the Massachusetts-based additive manufacturing (AM) original equipment manufacturer (OEM), has released an upgrade to its signature Eiger software. Called “Performance Advisor,” the new capability enables users to automate the strength analysis of 3D part files.
So far, Performance Advisor is only compatible with Markforged’s Onyx carbon fiber, and there are some other limitations to the upgrade in its introductory form. For instance, as the company notes in a blog post about Performance Advisor, the function “may not be able to analyze parts with extremely complex STL meshes.”
On the other hand, Markforged’s emphasis on cloud-based software optimization would suggest that, as the function grows in popularity — and, thus, helps the company accumulate more data — additional parameters will likely be added down the road. And there’s reason to think the new capability will be quite popular, as it takes a significant step in the right direction toward giving users totally seamless control over the design process.
Once the user saves a part in Eiger, Performance Advisor analyzes it automatically, then recommends the optimal combination of increased strength in proportion to cost and print time. This allows the user to make the choice as to whether or not the additional strength justifies the added time and cost.
Notably, Performance Advisor is use-case independent, thanks to a patent-pending, physics-based method developed by engineers at Markforged. This differentiates it from Markforged’s Simulation tool, which requires the input of known use-cases in order for users to utilize the otherwise largely similar Safety Factor function. Another advantage of the new capability is that, unlike Simulation, which requires a subscription to the Advanced Digital Forge, Performance Advisor is available to all users with a printer registered to Eiger.
As the overall 3D printing customer base has grown, the number of parts qualified for AM processes has slowly but steadily increased, putting seasoned users in a position to start thinking ahead about future generations of components. Once baseline levels of acceptable safety for part parameters have been reached, experienced users are going to want to design future items with the ideal balance of safety and cost savings in mind, which includes saving time on each print. At the same time, they’re also going to want to be able to give the option of stronger parts at higher prices and longer wait times to those of their own customers who prioritize strength and can afford the cost.
Performance Advisor obviously meets those demands, and should be particularly useful to end-users who have the greatest resources to devote to qualifying their own parts, namely giant organizations like the military, automotive OEMs, etc. The capability also augments two of the greatest strengths of the Markforged ecosystem, automation and versatility.
Finally, the release reinforces the idea that, going forward, the software side of AM will be increasingly pivotal in determining the nature of the industry’s overall growth trajectory. If that proves to be the case, some of the biggest beneficiaries should be OEMs like Markforged that have built their businesses from the ground-up with cloud compatibility as a top priority.
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