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Having been founded by aerospace engineer Greg Mark, MarkForged (or MarkForg3d) is already making waves since their debut at last week’s SolidWorks World in San Diego. Their flagship product—the Mark One 3D Printer—was on display in the Partner Pavilion and was perhaps the only product demonstration booth that had a crowd gathered day-in and day-out throughout the entire week. It’s hard to argue why: Mark and company have taken the otherwise laborious and tedious process of fabricating with carbon fiber and streamlined it into a rapid prototyping package. Somewhere in the haze of a post-lunch coffee and cookie break, Mark and Gian Paolo Bassi of SolidWorks gave us a little rundown on what the Mark One 3D printer is all about.

The World’s First Carbon Fiber 3D Printer

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After earning degrees from MIT and pursuing a career in designing high-performance composite race car wings, Greg Mark realized that you could use 3D printing hardware to automate the composite layup process. While other 3D printers may print at varying degrees of strength, none can boast that they are able to print thousands of strands of carbon fiber.

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With a higher strength-to-weight ration than 6061-T6 Aluminum, you would be hard-pressed to find a faster and better solution for quickly getting strength-sensitive parts for high-stress applications. However (and quite importantly) you aren’t confined to just printing with carbon fiber with the Mark One Printer…if a weekend project for a fourth grade classroom calls for a box of pencil toppers, the machine can also print strictly in PLA or nylon (although let’s admit: carbon fiber pencil toppers would be pretty cool).

At the show, the ‘print-sample-of-choice’ that Mark carried around in his back pocket all week to demonstrate the printer was an Aeromotions race car wing support as seen below:

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We would have loved to see more examples for other real-world applications at the show but have high hopes that they’ll be unloading an arsenal of sample prints when the Mark One starts shipping later this year for $4,999. We’ll keep you updated with other announcements but in the meantime, you can be one of the first to get your hands on a Mark One over at the MarkForged pre-order page.

UPDATE: The Mark One is now available for pre-order with both Original and Developer kits available priced at $4,999 and $8,799, respectively.

(Images via MarkForged)

Filed under: FAB NEWS

  • Lee Lloyd

    I don’t really get it. Is the fiber layup a true 3-axis CNC operation, or is it just an accumulation of 2D layers, like a typical 3D printer? If you could print a 3D surface, with arbitrary topology, and then have the printer lay the fiber down on that arbitrary topology in 3 dimensions, then this seems like it could be an incredibly useful tool, but one that would require fairly advanced toolpathing, like CAM software. However, if it is just functions like a standard FDM printer, with simple slicing, then it seems like you would only be able to add strength in layers, all constrained to the same plane.

  • ion

    Dyneema