Markforged 3D Printers: Manufacturing reinvented

At our recent customer day, Innova Systems Technical Manager, Ed Hawkins, hosted a session to introduce everyone to our new Markforged 3D Printer range. You can watch the whole session below and don’t forget to get in touch with us if you’d like to find out more!

[Video Transcript]

Hello and welcome along to this afternoons session: Manufacturing Reinvented with Markforged 3D Printers.

Here at Innova Systems we have a bit of history with 3D printers and we’re still very excited about our new partnership with Markforged and hopefully by the end of the session, you will be too!

My name is Ed Hawkins and over the next 20 minutes or so I’ll be looking to educate, entertain and excite you on the Markforged process and their technology.

  • I’ll give you a little bit of an introduction to Markforged
  • We’ll go over the value of composite 3D printing and how it differs from what you might be used to
  • I’ll show you the Markforged range of 3D printers, both desktop and industrial
  • We’ll share a few customer success stories and then summarise the benefits at the end

Lets get started with the Markforged introduction

  • Founded in 2013 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology by Greg Mark and David Benhaim. Interestingly enough, SOLIDWORKS was founded out of MIT all those years ago!
  • At SOLIDWORKS World 2014 they released their first printer the Mark One showcasing the continuous fibre technology.
  • In 2015, additional fibres were added to the range along with their own base material, Onyx
  • 2016 saw the introduction of multiple launches with the Mark Two and the Onyx, along with the introduction of the Industrial series of printers
  • 2017 was a big year with the launch of metal printing. Suspended metal particles that can be printed by fused filament fabrication, washed and then sintered to create usable metal parts.
  • In 2018 the metal range of materials was expanded to include H13 tool steel, Inconel and others,

The Markforged difference, or methodology, is more than just 3D printing. It’s about building stronger, usable parts that can be manufactured faster and cheaper than traditional methods. Or more simply…

…Design…Reinforce…Print…Use.

Let’s take a look at some of the materials and technology that make this possible.

Firstly, Markforged have developed their own material for their 3D printers, called Onyx. Onyx is a micro carbon fibre filled nylon that yields accurate parts with near flawless surface finish. It offers high strength, toughness and chemical resistance when printed alone.

If you’re used to more traditional 3D printed FDM materials like ABS or PETG, you’ll know that invariable the surface finish can be poor with visible striation lines and limited strength characteristics. This type of 3D printed part has a scope limited to visual prototypes or light use. Onyx is 1.4 times stronger and stiffer than ABS and the surface finish is honestly amazing. You really do need to look at these parts in detail to know they’re from a 3d printer!

Taking a stronger base material like Onyx, Markforged then added continuous fibre reinforcement into the mix.

A layer of carbon fibre, fibreglass, Kevlar or, HSHT fibreglass is laid down on the inside of the part at a rate that you define – then a lattice structure of Onyx is built up on the inside void. This creates parts that are exceptionally strong and exceptionally light. Up to 25x stronger than ABS and in some cases twice the strength of Aluminium.

With four fibre reinforcement options available there is suitable fibre for most applications and price point.

Take a look at this loading test on a carbon fibre reinforced 3D print from a Markforged machine…

22,200 pounds of force! A massive difference over traditional 3D printed parts and really opens up the conversation again about what can be done and the applications for the technology.

Now from a desktop 3D printer we have the capability to print parts with metal strength, durability that are optimised for performance.

So, what are people printing with Markforged technology?

The answer is…everything! The scope for what can be produced is huge. I’ll take you through a few customer case studies later, but for now, let’s take a look at the range of 3D printers available.

First up, the desktop range, The Onyx One, Onyx Pro and the Mark Two.

The Onyx one is a bulletproof desktop 3D printer designed to bring professional-grade reliability, part quality and accuracy to the desktop. Made from a unibody aluminium chassis and precision- machined components it delivers proven reliability over thousands of print hours.

The Onyx one prints solely in Onyx, Markforged’s composite base material. This is a micro carbon fibre filled nylon that yields accurate parts with an impeccable surface finish

Build volume is the same across all of the desktop range at 320mm x 132mm x 154mm. the build plate is removable and attaches kinematically – this makes the removal of the print bed easy and the relocation even easier. Bed levelling is performed manually with a guided user interface and test prints to ensure the print quality.

The Onyx Pro adds the ability to reinforce Onyx parts with fibreglass, allowing you to produce production ready parts with strength characteristics of 10x stronger than plastic.

The flagship product in the desktop range is the Mark Two. This adds the ability to reinforce with the complete range of fibres available from Markforged – Carbon fibre, fibreglass, Kevlar and HSHT fibreglass. It also brings the additional option of a Nylon White base material.

All desktop printers come with ethernet, USB and are WiFi enabled. You also get  access to Eiger, the  cloud software for slicing, file storage and printer fleet management. And they also include an out of plastic detection system to ensure that your prints always complete.

Onto the Markforged Industrial 3D printer range…

The Markforged Industrial 3D printer range sees an increase in build volume at 330mm x 270mm x 200mm and adds in adaptive bed levelling technology. Because the first layer of printing is the most critical, the Industrial range includes a laser which scan the bed before every print. It will instruct the user to adjust the bed if necessary and can also make minute Z-axis adjustments as it is printing the first layer to ensure a consistently adhered first layer.

The X3 can print in Onyx, Onyx FR and Onyx ESD. Onyx FR is flame retardant version of Onyx designed for use in applications where parts must be non-flammable. Onyx ESD is a stronger and stiffer version of Onyx for industrial applications. Its precision engineered to possess an extremely tight range of surface resistance – meeting ESD-safe requirements of the most stringent manufacturers. Each piece of hardware in the filament extrusion system — from the nozzles to the extruder hobs — is optimized to resist wear from micro carbon fibre filled nylon filaments and maintain print quality over thousands of hours.

The X3 can also achieve a resolution of 50 microns minimum and is adjustable up to 200 microns.

The X5 has a 3rd-generation fibre reinforcement system that enables you to lay down continuous fibre into parts, in the same way the Onyx Pro does – but with the bigger built plate and higher resolution and other benefits of the Industrial range – the possibilities go even further.

And finally, we have the X7. This printer can print in all the available Base materials: Onyx, Onyx ESD, Onyx FR and Nylon White, along with being able to reinforce with the complete range of fibres.

The X7 also sees the introduction of ‘Turbo Print’ technology that allows you to print up to 4x faster. Turbo print is ideal for users who need immediately and can sacrifice a little bit of the surface finish.

It also includes  the ability to perform in-process laser inspection. A laser on the print head scans the part for dimensional accuracy – making sure that parts can meet exacting tolerances. Building on this, the X7 is also compatible with Markforged Blacksmith – an automated quality control software.

Take a look at Blacksmith in the video below

As you slice a part with Eiger it creates an integrated scan tool path of the part. The X7 scans the part while printing and creates a point cloud of dimensional data of the printed part. Blacksmith then compares the point cloud measured during printing to the design files, generates a detailed error field for the part and overlays it over the initial STL.

This technology allows you to set tolerances limits, compare different prints of the same part and browse a centralised scan library of print quality data.

Looking at the matrix of all the printers against each other gives us a good summary of each of their capabilities. If you want to see any of the machines in more detail, just get in contact with us and we’ll happily show you the printers we have in our office.

I mentioned Eiger when talking about the X7 – this is the cloud-based software included with every Markforged 3D printer.

Eiger is a slicing software, file storage and printer fleet manager. Powerful and easy to use, you simply upload your CAD models, specify the material, the printer you are using and any reinforcement material you want to use – Eiger will do the rest.

For parts where strength is paramount, you can control the layers in which fibre is inserted along with the style – concentric, isotropic or full fill. Estimated print time is adjusted on the fly, so you can see what impact your choices have on print time. Cost is also shown, so you can see exactly how much your part is going to cost based on the material used.

Another great advantage of Eiger is that your prints can be stopped, for example to place inserts or other types of fixings. Because of the kinematic removable bed, this process is easy and safe, as it can be done away from the printer.  Prints can also be monitored from Eiger – and as its cloud-based, this can be from anywhere.

Eiger is free to use, so if you are interested in seeing how much your parts will cost to produce on a Markforged printer, or just to find out more about the software – please take a look at Eiger.io

Let’s take a look at some customer stories starting with Caldwell Manufacturing

Caldwell managed to cut their new product development time down from 6 months to 6 weeks and also reduced their part cost over the machined variants by 10x. I think the great thing about this is that it is now part of their culture. Not only are they using 3D printed parts for development, they are also using them for production.

Lets have a look at one more from Lean Machine

That’s pretty amazing to see the strength possible on Markforged parts – seeing them used as bending tools for sheet metal parts really gives me the confidence that these parts are as strong and durable as Markforged say! Lean Machine have now substantially reduced their reliance on CNC parts and their CNC machines – freeing up time and saving money.

Both of these companies are seeing advantages in production by improving speed, reducing downtime and getting greater yields from their investment…

…but what does this mean for manufacturing in the short to medium term?

  • A lot of possible change across Inventory, production cost, manufacturing, logistics, new product development and demand planning
  • Generally, your inventory will be physical due to wanting to keep lead times as low as possible for your customers
  • Production cost is high due to material cost and manufacturing methods
  • Manufacturing may be done offshore meaning that logistics are global and often slow
  • New product development can also be slow because of the constraints on the above
  • Demand planning can also be difficult and slow, because of unpredictability
  • Adopting additive manufacturing as a process can allow
  • Your historically physical inventory to become digital – print a part when you need it
  • Production costs becomes a lot lower – customers of markforged are seeing massive reduction in part costs
  • Manufacturing moves from being global to on your desktop
  • Logistics then reduces. With cloud based printing, you can send your parts to print in the facility where they are needed
  • New product development cycles reduce dramatically, as you are not constrained by more traditional manufacturing processes
  • Demand planning can be much more predictable – you are able to print a functional part In less than a day
  • The benefits go beyond manufacturing line efficiency – and change the way Markforged customers do business
  • Lower production costs can improve ability to compete
  • Machinist talent can focus on higher value jobs
  • Greater profit margins
  • Get to market faster by decreasing product development cycle times
  • Increase the agility of your manufacturing operations by changing lines over faster
  • Reduce money spent on physical inventory by transitioning to a digital inventory model

It’s an exciting time for us at Innova Systems and we are pleased to be offering Markforged 3D printing technology to you.

If you’d like to see the printers up close and personal, please get in contact with an account manager who can arrange a visit. We can also provide sample parts for you, if you want to test them for your own applications.

To find out more about Markforged, call us on 01223 200690, or send us a message below

    *Required fields



    Tick to receive news & special offers via email. yeshidden
    Click here to view our privacy policy.


    We hope you found that useful!

    Have you seen our blog archive where we have posted plenty of helpful articles? We also have a fantastic video library filled with easy-to-follow videos on a number of topics inspired by other SOLIDWORKS users – take a look. Also, don’t forget to follow Innova Systems on Twitter for bite-size SOLIDWORKS tips, tricks, and videos.