Markforged is known for their outstanding carbon fiber printers ─ the Mark One, Mark X and Onyx series. Now the manufacturing heavyweights are expanding beyond plastic. The’ve gone ‘full metal’ with the introduction of their Metal X 3D printer, which was recently unveiled at this year’s CES in Las Vegas.
Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing
For all intents and purposes, the Metal X is an additive manufacturing machine similar to FDM, but that’s where the similarity ends. It uses a new process derived by Markforged known as Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM). The parts are printed layer-by-layer using metal powders encapsulated by plastic binders, which are then removed after printing.
Once the part is printed, the plastic is dissolved and the metal is sintered thereby creating the entire part all at once. The process allows for the metal crystals to pass through the bonded layers which strengthens the entire part. The Metal X takes advantage of a wide range of metals suitable for use in a myriad of industries, including automotive, industrial, medical and aerospace.
The print materials include:
- 17-4 Stainless Steel
- 303 Stainless Steel
- 6061 Aluminum (Beta)
- 7075 Aluminum (Beta)
- A-2 Tool Steel (Beta)
- D-2 Tool Steel (Beta)
- IN Alloy (Inconel) 625 (Beta)
- Titanium Ti-6Al-4V (Beta)
Markforged also claims the Metal X can produce parts with complex shapes and geometries other metal-based 3D printers on the market today are uncapable of printing. The 3D printer also comes with the Markforged in-process, laser inspection feature seen in the company’s other products, which assures part quality and dimensional accuracy.
The Metal X also features a camera, material-handling system and is connected to their Eiger cloud-based platform so you can inspect your product one layer at a time as it’s being produced.
Although other metal 3D printing machines such as Sciaky EBAM 300 series and EOS’s FORMIGA P110 are on the expensive side ($250K and up), the Markforge Metal X comes in at just under $100K ($99,500). A bit of an investment for SMBs or start-ups, but when you compare the price with one-off molds or machining complex geometries, it pays off fast. It’s always exciting to see what Markforged is developing and it’s great to see their running full-tilt on the innovation front.