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US$5,000 for the world’s first 3D carbon fiber printer

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January 28, 2014

The Markforged Mark One – the world's first 3D printer capable of printing carbon fiber

The Markforged Mark One – the world's first 3D printer capable of printing carbon fiber

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Auto and motorcycle enthusiasts with a bit of CAD savvy will soon have access to a remarkably affordable dream machine – the US$5,000 MarkForged Mark One. Touted as the world’s first 3D printer capable of printing in carbon fiber, the device could trigger an avalanche of aftermarket carbon fiber bolt-on parts.

Carbon fiber (CF) has long been a material of choice for automotive and aerospace applications due to its light weight and extreme strength – to the point where its trademark weave pattern has become synonymous with high performance vehicles. Carbon fiber bolt-on parts, or even plastic ones designed to look like CF, are hot items in the aftermarket auto parts industry, and the ability to 3D print such items will presumably open up all sorts of new applications in this and other areas.

Designed and manufactured by MarkForged, the Mark One can print to a maximum size of 305 x 160 x 160 mm (12 x 6.25 x 6.25 in). In addition to CF, it can also print in fiberglass, nylon and polylactic acid (PLA) – although it only prints one material at a time through its dual extrusion print head. And since it's vital to be able to remove and replace the print tray in exactly the same place between layer runs, the Mark One's removable platform clips back in with 10-micron accuracy.

Automotive applications will be close to the heart of MarkForged President Gregory Mark, who also co-owns Aeromotions – a company that produces some really impressive computer controlled aerodynamic CF spoiler wings for high-performance race cars.

Carbon fiber wing part produced with the Mark One

Of course, this kind of technology puts custom carbon parts within reach of all sorts of other industries as well, and allows intricate shapes to be formed that would be very tough to create using traditional CF manufacturing techniques.

At just $5,000, the Mark One will be well within the price range of many custom auto builders, and even possibly some backyard thumb-bangers with a flair for computer design. Exciting stuff! MarkForged says the Mark One will be "available soon."

The Mark One can be seen churning out some carbon fiber 3D prints in the following video.

Source: MarkForged via 3Dprint.com

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
12 Comments

So it only prints 2D layers of composite fibers? (Which is basically a RepRap, except with fiber instead of heated plastic wire.) In the vertical dimension, it will be limited to the strength of the resin. The whole point of fiber composites is being able to orient the fibers to provide maximum strength. Being limited to 2D layers severely limits the applications.

Jim Bruin
28th January, 2014 @ 08:38 pm PST

This is good, give it 5-10 more years with the advancement of this tech, and it might drop in half(2500) or to 1000 dollars.

hungrygiraffe
28th January, 2014 @ 08:42 pm PST

They may sell the printer cheap but the supplies expensive - you know, like the current ink printers business model...

GoodLife03
28th January, 2014 @ 08:46 pm PST

if you don't weave the carbonfiber it is worth nothing ...

building things out if carbonfiber is more like basket weaving. the structure brings the strength, not the material on its own.

MG127
29th January, 2014 @ 03:59 am PST

I seriously doubt that the printed objects will have anywhere the strenght and lightness of the autoclaved oriented CF. Surely, you could print particulars with a CF look, actually made with CF!

ugosugo
29th January, 2014 @ 09:28 am PST

Hey guys, that is just the beginning, yeah? In a few years it will be able to 'print' (do they mean 'to lay'?) Various lengths, widths AND orient the fibers in the desired direction. At least I believe so.

Volodya Kotsev
29th January, 2014 @ 10:03 am PST

If previous posters are correct in doubting the strength of printed objects they should realize that many objects in the auto world are mainly bling and eye candy. It's amazing what some car lovers will shell out for bragging rights alone.

moreover
29th January, 2014 @ 10:20 am PST

Printed CF autos, boats and airplanes are the future.

ezeflyer
29th January, 2014 @ 11:24 am PST

Yeah, carbon fiber filament for 3D printing has been around for a while (see e.g. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1375236253/proto-pasta-gourmet-food-for-your-3d-printer), so there's really nothing new here.

Now, put that FDM print head on a 5-axis CNC so you can orient the fibers at will, and you've got something...

PatrikD
29th January, 2014 @ 12:09 pm PST

I agree with most of these posters - At this stage the layering and "plying" of the fibers is not there to give the legendary strength, but for decorative CF looking pieces it will be popular enough to get a ready market. Covers, dashboards, all things that can overlay the real item will sell well.

The Skud
29th January, 2014 @ 04:57 pm PST

Weaving is not essential. Having fibres in different directions very often is but that can to some extent be achieved with this design. Although it looks indeed like this will only be in 2D. One of the main issues with high strength composites is the accurate spacing of fibres in the resin without any air trapped inside. That is perhaps difficult to achieve. Alternative methods often require a vacuum blanket or autoclaves. A whole new class of 3D products could be created by letting the head print on a rotating shape. This could be a tube, ball or less symmetric shapes. This process is called filament winding. In 1996 I experimented with such a process creating continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastic products. Those were the days...

Paul Rudenko
30th January, 2014 @ 02:36 pm PST

As many posters have stated, this is really useless for 3d components, as the z-axis (on a 3 axis "printer" will only have strength provided by the thermoplastic.

The article doesn't seem to say what the thermoplastic matrix is?? (or did I miss that)

Also, the products manufactured using this product most likely won't LOOK like they are made of carbon fiber.

To be at all useful, a fibre producing "3d printer" must be a 4-5 axis machine, if a low density plastic plug can be created (in 3 axes), then the fibres (filaments) can be wound around the plug, with the fibres oriented correctly to produce the highest strength product.

The machine I have described would also be able to lay down honeycomb layers (in any orientation) in-between the fibre reinforced layers for additional rigidity with low weight for the finished product. Hey the honeycomb layers could also be aramid/glass/carbon reinforced.

SO this it NOT a "carbon fibre 3d Printer", rather it is a regular 3d printer glue gun type machine with a carbon fibre reinforced plastic filament.

And it isn't really as useful as it seems, a regular rep-rap and a thermoset based filament winding setup (manual works fine for one-offs) will produce a far better engineering product.

MD
4th February, 2014 @ 09:31 pm PST
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