There are a host of materials that can be used with 3D printers to get the desired shapes and textures needed for specific projects. Those materials typically go hand-in-hand with which 3D printing process is used, such as metal powders used for the additive process or polymers and thermoplastics for the extrusion method, but none have been able to utilize carbon fiber materials for their projects until now.
MarkForged recently unveiled its new Mark One 3D printer at the start of SolidWorks World this year in San Diego, with representatives highlighting some of the printer's more notable features for rapid prototyping.
Click on the Mark One 3D printer below for a 360-degree look.
Most notable is being able to print objects using composite materials, including carbon fiber, which is 20 times stiffer and five times stronger than ABS filament and even aluminum. The reason behind its strength is that the material is extruded in long continuous strands that are capable of handling a load throughout the entire strand rather than in certain areas. The Mark One employs two different extraction methods, including Fused Filament Fabrication (at a resolution of 100 microns) and Composite Filament Fabrication (at a resolution of 200 microns), depending on the material being used, which includes fiberglass, nylon, and PLA, as well as carbon fiber.
Another interesting feature of the Mark One is the incorporation of a kinetic coupling for the printer's build platform, which allows the build bed to remain level (within 10 microns) during multiple project builds without the need for repeated adjustment. The printer has a maximum build size of 305 mm x 160 mm x 160 mm, which is larger than some of the other 3D printers of the same size. There's no word yet on when the Mark One will be released; however, it should be on the market at some point this year. The printer is expected to start at $5,000.
The Mark One was the belle of the ball at SolidWorks World 2014. Company founder Greg Mark stated during a Q&A, why the Mark One looks like it does. Originally, he told the crowd, the printer was an industrial, blocky design, but still worked the same way. Investors backing the printer's creation said it must look better before its debut. Drawing from the aesthetics of the stark Apple look of simple but bold looks, the Mark One was changed into the brushed aluminum Apple tower-like case it is in now. Mark's main requirement beyond that was the printer table must be open on three sides. Not only does that make it easier for handling the printed parts, it helps maintain the simple and stark look he wanted.
Mark said a single 3D printer could print out a part in five hours.