Markforged has made their first step into metal 3D printing. Thepromises affordable custom metal parts. Let's review the specs of the machine.
Markforged began back in 2014 when they released their first marquee product, the Markforged Mark One. The Mark One became one of the first composite 3D printers on the market. The machine provided parts with unparalleled strength thanks to continuous strands of Kevlar, carbon-fiber or glass. After receiving $54.8M in total funding the company continued its successes with further composite machines and then with the announcement of the Markforged Metal X in January 2017 at CES. The Metal X comes in at $99,500, a low-cost entry point in comparison to the $500,000+ industrial DMLS/SLM machines.
If you want to learn more about metal 3D printing in general, please continue here: 2018 Metal 3D Printer Guide - All About Metal 3D Printing
The move into metal 3D printing was met with pushback by some as in March of this year competitor Desktop Metal filed suit. The lawsuit would be concluded soon after with Markforged being cleared of any IP infringement. Since April the first Markforged Metal X’s have been shipped out alongside their post-processing station the Sinter-1 (furnace) and Wash-1 (debinder). These additional extras are needed to complete the full process of part production using Markforged’s Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing.
The most powerful feature of the Markforged Mark X is the new innovative process to create parts made with the machine. Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing or ADAM for short, involves the process of using a bound metal powder rod embedded inside a plastic filament. Similarly to other 3D printing processes, the part is built up layer by layer except with compensations made for shrinkage.
Once the part is finished on the Markforged Metal X, the “green” part is then taken to two post-processing stations. Firstly the part goes through the Wash-1, a debinder which immerses the part in a specialized fluid which removes the primary binding material. This process leaves the material semi-porous so the remaining binder can be burnt away easily in the next step. The final stage uses the Sinter-1, a high power furnace which sinters the part burning away any, fusing it into a solid metal part. This final stage makes the part around 99 percent dense which is on par with high-end DMLS machines on the market.
The benefits of ADAM technology are that it allows for closed cell structures. Previously other industrial metal 3d printing technologies have needed an escape hole for unused powder with the Metal X this isn’t the case as the powder burns away. This means designers can create complex enclosed internal structures to create light parts that don’t sacrifice on the part strength.
Both the Wash-1 and Sinter-1 together weigh 274 kg (600 lbs), taking up 1067 x 505 x 720 mm (42 x 20 x 28 in) and 609 x 685 x 1067 mm (24 x 27 x 42 in) respectively. Although large this still represents a huge reduction in size, cost and weight than current methods of post-processing industrially 3D printed metal parts. The price of the two additional machines is somewhat unknown with some resellers offering the entire package of the Metal X, Sinter-1 and Wash-1 for around £131,000 (exc VAT).
With industrial 3D printing technologies, there will always be a need for some sort of post-processing. By combining the entire process from CAD to finished part Markforged can have some guarantees of the quality of their parts. The only competitor in the space is Desktop Metal’s studio system which uses a similar three-step process, which began shipping their units at the end of 2017. The difference being that Markforged claims that their process provides crystal growth throughout all axes, giving parts the mechanical properties of solid metal in all directions.
The first material being launched with the machine is 17-4 PH stainless steel. An all-purpose metal that combines high strength, corrosion resistance, and hardness. Widely used in the aerospace, medical and chemical industries due to the properties mentioned. 17-4 PH stainless steel is perfect for tooling and assembly fixtures. Both applications that would have alternatively been completed by using the more high-cost process of CNC machining. Other materials currently in beta are Tool Steel (H13, A2, D2) Titanium Ti6Al4V, Inconel (IN) 625, Copper, Aluminum (6061, 7075). Having such an array of materials opens up a world of applications for the machine including parts for jet engines (Inconel 625) and heat exchangers (Copper).
The Metal X comes with Markforged proprietary cloud-based software Eiger. Eiger allows for real-time fleet management, meaning that if you have a collection of Metal X’s churning out parts you can see the status of all machines and manage production efficiently. The machine has a touchscreen interface and uses Eiger to track the materials being used to optimize print settings accordingly. Eiger can also work within most browsers allowing you to easily import CAD drawings without the need of cumbersome software. Within the software, the functionality includes the ability to optimize the printing process for specific pressure points to create the strongest possible part.
The advantages of metal 3D printing as a whole are widely known, the ability to create one-off parts with highly complex geometries. What the Markforged Metal X allows you to do is access those benefits in a more affordable way with less of the overhead of large-scale industrial machinery. Although the process has not really been shortened and you still need extensive post-processing, the Markforged Metal X at $99,500 proves to be a good entry point for organizations to begin printing metal end-use parts.
These are the current technical specifications of the Markforged Metal X.
License: The text of "Markforged Metal X – Review the Specs of the 3D Printer" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Subscribe to updates from All3DP
You are subscribed to updates from All3DP
You can’t subscribe to updates from All3DP. Learn more…