Developments in Carbon Fibre 3D Printing in Australia

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Recent developments in carbon fibre 3D printing technologies offer businesses advantages over traditional manufacturing techniques like CNC machining and modular fixturing, by printing parts in carbon fibre that are equal to or better in strength than aluminum, and up to 90% faster and 70% cheaper.

Markforged, based in Boston USA, offer the world’s only 3D printing systems capable of automatically reinforcing engineering plastics to aluminum levels of performance and beyond. Using patented technology, Markforge reinforces nylon with strong carbon fiber replacing parts typically machined in metal.

Markforged offer two types of carbon fibre reinforcement to achieve strength comparable with metal:

• Continuous carbon fibre filament
• Onyx - Dispersed micro-carbon fiber filament

“After hundreds of broken beams and countless reformulations, we've created new materials that raise the standard for strength and accuracy,” says Markforged's Chief Scientist Tony Gozdz, “Onyx has more than three times the stiffness of ordinary nylons, and with a heat deflection temperature of 145C, making it perfectly suited to vehicles, machinery, and automation equipment.”

While the majority of conventional polymers cannot survive as a production part in manufacturing environments, Markforged’s carbon fibre offers exciting properties. “It's a stiffer material, the edges are true...parts look better and they fit together better. I think we're going to never look back with this new material... it's helping us make parts that are direct sale to market,” declared Alan Rencher of Media Blackout, a specialist in customized professional video equipment. "Now, all of a sudden, you can get great engineering materials, with the properties that you would want in finished products, and that's really going to be a game changer," said Carl Bass, Autodesk Chief Executive. “This material is fantastic... my team and I are impressed,” said Jamison Go of fighting robot Team SawBlaze. “The dragon head functions as a protective cover and aesthetic. We expect this part to take a lot of abuse, which attests to the confidence we have in this material.” Team SawBlaze and Team Overhaul, each sporting Onyx and other Markforged reinforced parts in their massive combat robots.

“Markforged users are also able to bring products to market faster because they can print high-strength components that endure where traditional plastics parts would just break.,” said founder and CEO Greg Mark. “When we debuted this technology three years ago, our first customers were aerospace companies looking for cheaper composites, but over the last year we saw the largest growth from companies interested in high-strength, tough parts. We offer the only affordable 3D printer that prints these types of parts, and it is resonating in the market.”

Markforged’s carbon fibre materials are used in the Mark Two and Mark X range of 3D printers. The Mark Two offers a 320mm x 132mm x 154mm build size and the Mark X offers an industrial scale 330mm x 250mm x 200mm build size. In addition to a large print volume, the Mark X introduces a set of breakthrough print capabilities that include in-process laser inspection as well as a fine (50 micron) surface finish to make this one of the most powerful, precise, and unique 3D printers on the market today.

“With the Mark X, we have taken a different path from most of the 3D printing industry with innovation that will create a new bottom line benefit for many manufacturers” says Greg Mark, CEO and founder. “We already had success with the breakthrough strength and light weight of continuous carbon fiber in our Mark Two printer - now we added in-process inspection for exact dimensional accuracy, high resolution beautiful surface finish, and scale to open entirely new segments of the industry to efficiencies of what printing can accomplish.”

Markforged’s Mark X builds on the success of its existing unique technology and materials available in the Mark Two, but adds a leap in capability and scale for fiber-reinforced printing of precision parts. With new in-process inspection for dimensional accuracy, the Mark X gives engineers and designers the ability to close the loop on production and ensure printed parts are exactly as designed. A laser sensor affixed to the print head will scan parts at any layer designated in order to measure whether your most critical tolerances are met - all controlled by the award winning Markforged Eiger software. In addition, the Mark X includes a high precision build plate, encoders on the print head for high accuracy, silent stepper motors, and a high stiffness Z-axis motor all for a high degree of part quality.

Engineers, manufacturers, and designers looking to print incredibly strong and highly precise parts for robotics, automotive parts, molds, prosthetics, athletic equipment, and other industrial applications will find the Markforged machines not only the must-have printer for their needs but also a replacement for both inventory and costly, time consuming metal machining processes. “We see a lot of users calling their Mark One their ‘secret weapon’. The automotive industry is using the Mark One to create industrial strength fixtures for holding heavy parts. Machine shops that previously shunned 3D printing are adopting the Markforged machines as the only 3D printer able to replace or complement aluminum and steel and are beginning to ship 3D printed parts.

Markforged printers are supplied with Eiger software - a Google Chrome-based cloud solution – allowing operations managers to oversee and monitor multiple printers concurrently, bringing a new capability to customized and scaled manufacturing.

Markforged printers are available in Australia and New Zealand from Emona Instruments. For more information, click: http://www.emona.com.au/products/high-performance-3d-printers/3d-printers