Check out our guide to learn all about the latest professional carbon fiber 3D printers and carbon fiber 3D printer filaments.
One of the main driving forces behind recent 3D printing innovation isn’t just confined to the hardware, but also the mechanical quality of the materials that are fed into the printer. Nothing exemplifies these developments to FDM 3D printing quite like the recent rise of carbon fiber 3D printers and filament.
Both the prosumer and industrial sector have seen an influx of carbon fiber 3D printers over the past few years, and each seems to offer a unique pathway to producing high-performance prototypes and use-end parts. Carbon fiber reinforced filaments offer stronger, sturdier, and lightweight parts than commonly used polymer materials.
These types of composite materials are playing a critical role in the advancement of 3D printing, bringing production capabilities closer to traditional manufacturing techniques. By adding carbon fiber into base materials like PLA and PETF, prosumers, engineers, and small businesses are able to create parts that offer strength comparable to titanium, but in a much more cost-effective manner.
In the following article, we’ll share some of the most popular carbon fiber 3D printers and carbon fiber reinforced filaments on the market. We’ll also share tips and tricks to 3D printing with carbon fiber, along with the benefits and common applications.
|3D Printer||Technology||Build Volume (mm)||Min. Layer Height (microns)||Max. Extruder Temperature||Market Price (USD)||Check Price|
|Fusion3 F410||FDM||355 x 355 x 315||20||300°C||$4,599|
|Raise3D Pro2 Plus||FDM||305 x 305 x 300||10||300℃||$5,999|
|Ultimaker S5||FDM||330 x 240 x 300||20||280 °C||$5,995|
|Markforged Mark Two||FDM||320 x 132 x 154||100||–||$13,499|
|Anisoprint Composer A4||FDM/CFC||297 × 210 × 148||100||250°C||~$13,862|
|Roboze One +400||FDM||300 x 200 x 200||50||500°C||$50,000|
|Markforged X7||FDM/CFF||330 x 270 x 200||50||–||$70,000|
|Stratasys Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition||FDM||355 x 305 x 305||127-254||–||$70,000|
|Roboze Argo 500||FDM||500 × 500 × 500||–||550°C||$250,000|
|Impossible Objects Model One||CBAM||305 × 406 × 102||40||–||$250,000+|
There’s a growing selection of carbon fiber 3D printers entering the market, both for prosumers and small businesses. Here are some of the most sought-after machines on both ends of the spectrum.
If you want to purchase a highly proficient professional 3D printer without breaking the bank, the Fusion3 F410 is an excellent machine that is priced at just $4,599. This 3D printer boasts some impressive features, the most noticeable of which is its ample 355 x 355 x 315 mm enclosed build volume.
With a maximum nozzle temperature of 300°C, the Fusion3 F410 is compatible with pretty much all carbon fiber reinforced materials, as well as other advanced materials like Polycarbonate, Nylon, and more. It also has an enclosed print chamber that provides a stable heated environment to ensure that carbon fiber prints are completed without a hitch.
Other favorable attributes include a maximum print speed of 250 mm/s, a minimum layer resolution of 20 microns, and print tolerances within 0.003 inches. Users can also opt for Carbon and HEPA air filters to reduce harmful emissions and nasty odors. All in all, the Fusion3 F410 offers carbon fiber 3D printing capabilities in an affordable and large-format package, making it a popular option on the prosumer market.
Selected as All3DP’s Best Large-Format 3D printer of Fall 2018, the Raise3D Pro2 Plus is a sizable machine that offers reliability and professional quality. The most compelling feature of this machine is the massive 305 x 305 x 605mm build volume, but there’s more to the Pro2 Plus than its size.
While the Pro2 Plus is not marketed as a carbon fiber 3D printer, the printer’s maximum nozzle temperature of 300℃ and maximum bed temperature of 110℃ makes it capable of printing with most carbon fiber reinforced filaments. It’s ideal for prosumers and small businesses that require convenience, as it comes packed with features like wireless connectivity, a 7″ full-color touch screen, print recovery, dual extrusion capabilities, and a full enclosure.
Priced at $5,999, the Raise3D Pro2 Plus is surprisingly affordable considering the print volume and array of features. All in all, if you want a larger-than-life 3D printer that can handle anything from casual PLA to carbon fiber reinforced filament, this machine is certainly worth a hard look.
When Ultimaker first hit the desktop 3D printing market back in 2011, the company quickly became open source champions for the maker community. Nowadays, the Dutch 3D printer manufacturer has been busy packaging its open source identity for a more professional audience, the latest of which comes in the form of the Ultimaker S5.
With a 330 x 240 x 300 mm build volume and a slew of intuitive features, the Ultimaker S5 is a great option for those looking for an easy-to-use printer that is capable of printing with carbon fiber and other advanced filaments. It has a maximum nozzle temperature of 280˚C, lower than most of the printers on this list. But what the Ultimaker S5 lacks in nozzle temperature it makes up in, well, everything else.
The latest Ultimaker 3D printer offers dual extrusion 3D printing, a removable glass print bed for general use and an ultra-flat anodized aluminum bed for advanced engineering materials, a user-friendly full-color touchscreen display, a built-in filament flow sensor and more. Like the Raise3D Pro2 Plus, the Ultimaker S5 isn’t being sold as a carbon fiber 3D printer, but it’s more than capable of dealing with most of the carbon fiber reinforced materials on the market.
Widely recognized as one of the premier carbon fiber 3D printers on the professional market, the Markforged Mark Two is a workhorse machine that is compatible with a range of composite materials, including carbon fiber, high-temperature glass fiber, and Kevlar.
The Mark Two can also be used with the Massachusetts-based manufacturer’s ONYX filament, a Nylon-based material that is 1.4 times stronger and stiffer than ABS, and can also be reinforced with carbon fiber and other composite materials. This 3D printer uses a continuous carbon fiber reinforcement process to produce end-use parts with high-strength and versatility. It has a modest 320 x 132 x 154mm build volume and is capable of achieving a layer resolution of 100 microns.
To streamline the production process, Markforged has developed its own Eiger software, allowing users to import and slice a design that is optimized for high-strength 3D printing. The 3D printer manufacturer describes its 3D printer as having “workhorse reliability,” an important benefit for those who want to produce end-use parts from sunrise to sundown. The Markforged Mark Two is marketed towards the professional segment, priced starting at $13,500.
Slightly less known but equally as intriguing as the other machines on this list is the Russian-manufactured Anisoprint Composer A4. It utilizes a dual nozzle system that continuously reinforces parts with the company’s proprietary carbon fiber filament, which is comprised of thousands of tiny fibers. Using a special polymer compound, the carbon fiber material is bonded with the plastic part during the printing process.
According to the manufacturer, the Composer A4 is capable of producing parts that are 15 times stronger than common plastic parts and 4 times lighter than titanium. Priced around $13,780, this system has positioned itself somewhere in between pro-sumer and industrial machines. With a print head that can reach a maximum temperature of 250 ˚C and a fully enclosed build chamber, this carbon fiber 3D printer seems well-suited for the task at hand.
Hailing from Italy, the Roboze One +400 is another enticing option for those looking for a carbon fiber 3D printer. There are a number of impressive features that set it apart from the pack, starting with an industrial-grade extruder that is capable of reaching up to 500°C. This allows users to utilize nearly any material on the Roboze One +400, especially carbon fiber reinforced filaments.
Other features include a fully enclosed build chamber that can maintain a 130°C temperature, a vacuum plate system that improves adhesion, and a 300 x 200 x 200 mm print area. Another noteworthy aspect of the Roboze One +400 is the design, which is comprised of various industrial-grade components.
The Roboze One +400 has a beltless system that is made up of helical stainless steel racks and pinions that ensure ease of motion and greater positioning accuracy. It’s also equipped with a C7 ball screw on the Z-axis, which serves to improve the overall accuracy, durability, and wear resistance. Better yet, all of the mechanical components are manufactured in-house by the Italian company, using CNC machining for all of the metal parts. Outside of carbon fiber reinforced filament, users can also print with advanced materials like PEEK, TPU, and more.
Yet another offering from the Massachusetts-based 3D printer manufacturer, the Markforged X7 is an industrial-grade 3D printing platform that supports Continuous Carbon Fiber and Kevlar reinforced materials. Compared to the Mark Two, the X7 is a slightly more advanced system that streamlines the entire production ecosystem.
It includes a strengthed dual nozzle system and a laser inspection process that scans parts mid-print to check the dimensional accuracy for critical tolerances. Other features include a 330 x 270 x 200 mm build volume and a layer height of 50 microns. The Continous Carbon Fiber technique created by Markforged enables the creation of extremely high-strength and lightweight parts. Using the dual material system, the Markforged X7 is able to produce composite parts one layer at a time. While the first nozzle is building the plastic matrix of the model, the second nozzle winds carbon fiber throughout the part.
The X7 is the most advanced and expensive model featured in this 3D printer line, which also includes the smaller but equally capable Markforged X3 and Markforged X5 systems.
As it states in the name, the Stratasys Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition is engineered to do one thing: print high-strength parts from carbon fiber-filled material. Stratasys is one of the first-ever 3D printer companies and continues to maintain its relevance with industrial-grade additive manufacturing systems such as this one.
This niche solution is designed for engineers and small businesses that want to 3D print functional prototypes, end-use parts, and tooling that offer a high degree of strength and stiffness. This special edition of the Fortus model is compatible with engineering-grade materials like FDM Nylon 12 Carbon Fiber and ASA. The carbon fiber-filled Nylon material developed by Stratasys comes in black and can be printed at a minimum layer thickness of 254 microns.
According to the manufacturer, the Stratasys Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition brins production-level capability and reliability at a fraction of the cost of traditional manufacturing techniques.
Looking to further the advancement of its professional-grade 3D printing solutions, the Italian manufacturer Roboze recently released the ARGO 500. Named after a ship that is featured in Greek mythology, the ARGO is meant to represent new horizons for FDM 3D printing. This particular machine is designed to produce use-end parts for the automotive, aerospace, and other industrial sectors.
Equipped with a hefty 500 x 500 x 500 mm build volume, the Roboze ARGO 500 is compatible with a range of high-performance polymers, such as Carbon PA and Carbon PEEK. The latter is a unique mixture of PEEK and carbon fiber reinforcement, created by Roboze to achieve parts that will be used for extreme functional applications. It has an extruder that is capable of reaching a temperature of up to 550°C, as well as an enclosed print chamber that can be maintained at 180°C.
Compared to the Roboze ONE+400, the ARGO 500 has a much higher price tag, and therefore, it’s best suited for small businesses looking for an industrial system that can pump out high-strength carbon fiber reinforced parts.
Last year, the Illinois company Impossible Objects revealed a groundbreaking industrial 3D printer that utilizes a unique composite-based additive manufacturing (CBAM) technology. This process uses conventional thermal inkjet heads to produce designs on sheets of composite materials. Each sheet is fully coated with a polymer powder that sticks wherever the inkjet fluid has been deposited. A vacuum is used to remove excess powder from the object, followed by a compression and heating process that further bonds the sheets together. Once the leftover fibers are removed, users are left with a 3D printed object that is both durable and lightweight.
The first machine to feature this technology is called the Model One, a composite 3D printer that is capable of printing high-performance polymers that are reinforced with carbon fiber, Kevlar, or fiberglass. The Model One is engineered to provide exceptional functionality, fast production times, and high-strength parts.
The Model One boasts a build volume of 305 × 406 × 102 mm, production speeds that are faster than other 3D printing technologies, as well as reduced energy consumption that minimizes the printer’s environmental footprint.
Do you already have a 3D printer prepped to start producing lightweight and mechanically superior parts from carbon fiber material? There are quite a few different carbon fiber reinforced filaments to choose from, and finding the right one will be integral to your project or product development process. Here are some of the most popular and widely used carbon fiber 3D printing filaments currently on the market.
ColorFabb XT CF20 is comprised of PETG Amphora 3D polymer and up to 20 percent carbon fibers, giving it double the stiffness compared to PLA/PHA. The filament producer claims that its carbon fiber filament offers exceptional dimensional stability and heat resistance, making it ideal for a range of functional applications, such as aerospace and automotive prototyping.
It requires a printing temperature of 240-260°C and a bed temperature of 60-70°C, so most 3D decent desktop 3D printers should technically be able to handle this material. Of course, carbon fiber filaments like this tend to be abrasive, so be sure to feed this material through a hardened steel nozzle or run the risk of obtaining frustrating print fails. The ColorFabb XT CF20 is available in a diameter of both 1.75mm and 2.85mm.
The carbon fiber reinforced PLA that is offered by Proto-pasta contains around 15 percent chopped carbon fibers by weight. Compared to the base material, the carbon fibers make this filament much more rigid and stronger. Therefore, it’s ideal for parts that won’t bend, such as tooling and use-end components like drone parts.
Since smaller sized nozzles tend to encounter problems due to the abrasive nature of carbon fiber, the manufacturer recommends using a nozzle size of .5mm or larger. This material requires a hot end temperature between 195 and 200°C, while a heated bed is optional. It’s also extremely sensitive to moisture, so the spool should always be sealed and stored within a desiccant bag.
The Nylon X filament sold by Matterhackers features a combination of Nylon and around 20 percent micro-carbon fibers by weight. The mixture of Nylon and carbon fibers provide this material with engineering-grade mechanical characteristics, such as high stiffness, impact resistance, and high tensile strength. Users can use this durable carbon fiber reinforced material to produce parts for RC cars, drones, sports accessories, gears, and other functional applications.
As with most other carbon fiber filaments, Nylon X must be kept dry and packaged with a desiccator to prevent moisture from ruining the quality of the material. Matterhackers also recommends using a stainless steel nozzle like the Olsson Ruby when printing with this abrasive filament. It requires a print temperature between 250-265°C and a heated bed temperature of 60-65°C. If you have trouble getting your carbon fiber prints to stick to the bed, a PVA glue stick will help improve the adhesion of this material.
Similar to the ColorFabb XT-CF20, the carbon fiber filament from 3DX Tech is also made from PETG and high modulus carbon fibers. Compared to basic FDM materials, this formulation offers increased stiffness, chemical resistance and dimensional stability, making it ideal for a wide range of structural applications.
When using the 3DXTech Carbon Fiber filament, the manufacturer recommends using a hardened steel nozzle with a diameter of 0.4mm or larger. With a suggested extrusion temperature of 240°C and a bed temperature 65°C, you’ll probably need a high-end desktop machine to conquer this carbon fiber filament. In order to maximize the quality of your prints, 3DX Tech also advocates for a slower print speed of around 50mm per second.
Carbon Fiber PLA from ZIRO is an affordable option for those who want to dip their toes into the carbon fiber 3D printing waters. This PLA-based material is mixed with small, chopped carbon fiber strands, which improves the rigidity and structural integrity, while also promoting incredible layer adhesion and low warpage.
ZIRO recommends using an extruder temperature of between 210-240℃, no heated bed required (but it can improve first layer adhesion). For optimal results, it should be used with a 0.4mm nozzle and direct-drive spring loaded pinch-roll style extrusion head. This filament is perfect for producing objects that won’t undergo any bending, such as frames, supports, and propellers, just to name a few.
As with every 3D printing material, there are a handful of pros and cons that come with using carbon fiber 3D printers and carbon fiber reinforced filament. Here are a few of the most noteworthy:
While it’s certainly possible to print with carbon fiber-infused filament on more high-end desktop 3D printers, there are a few factors you should weigh before loading up a spool on your own. Compared to easy-to-print materials like plain-old PLA, carbon fiber reinforced materials require a much higher extruder temperature, generally around 260°C and above.
And so, the first thing on your carbon fiber 3D printing checklist should be to check the maximum extruder temperature of your 3D printer. It’s also important to understand exactly how carbon fiber filament will impact the printer itself, and how to optimize your hardware to ensure top quality prints. Since carbon fiber-based materials are so abrasive, they tend to wear down the printer’s brass nozzle and is more likely to clog the extruder pathway.
To reduce your encounters with these frustrating problems, it’s best to equip the 3D printer with a hardened steel nozzle. This hardware upgrade will make your printer better suited to handle the abrasive nature of carbon fibers. It’s worth noting that nozzles made of hardened steel are less conductive thermally than brass nozzles.
When printing with a hardened steel nozzle, it’s best to set the extruder temperature around 40-50°C higher than the filament manufacturer recommends. This will ensure that enough heat is maintained while the carbon fiber filament is extruding. Additionally, turning the fan speed down will also lessen the impact of any thermal conductivity issues.
Another way to prevent carbon fiber filament from clogging the extruder is by using a nozzle with a larger diameter (0.5 mm or above). When filaments are reinforced with carbon fiber, they become more brittle. This increases the risk of the material snapping, especially when it’s being directed around tight corners or around the frame of the printer. There are a couple of ways to reduce the chances of filament breakage, such as utilizing a PTFE filament guiding tube and leaving some slack so that it isn’t interacting with sharp turns or other rough areas.
There are also a few adjustments you can make to the settings in your 3D printing slicer in order to improve compatibility with carbon fiber filaments. For instance, by lowering the print speed by around 50 percent, the extruder will be able to handle the carbon fiber more effectively. Another way to fight clogging issues is by reducing or eliminating the retraction distance in your settings.
Of course, each 3D printer and carbon fiber filament is unique, so experimentation with different settings will likely be needed to achieve the most optimal results. Carbon fiber filaments offer incredible mechanical properties, but be prepared to do some tinkering on your own in order to maximize the quality of your prints.
As we’ve discussed, carbon fiber enhances the strength and stability of 3D printed parts, while also reducing the overall weight. This makes it an ideal composite material for a wide range of 3D printing applications, from functional prototypes to end-use parts. Here are a few of the most common uses of carbon fiber 3D printers and filament:
License: The text of "2019 Carbon Fiber 3D Printer Guide – All You Need to Know" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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