My colleague, Barb Schmitz, recently covered the SolidWorks conference in San Diego this week. A number of 3D printer innovations were introduced there; seems like everyone is getting involved with 3D printing. Here is her report on one of those 3D printing innovations.
Software companies spend a lot of money trying to create excitement at their user conferences, but it was newcomer, Mark Forg3D, that clearly generated the most buzz at this year’s SolidWorks World with the announcement of the upcoming release of its Mark One 3D printer. The Mark One is the first 3D printer to print composite materials. Designed to overcome the strength limitations of other 3D printed materials, users will now be able to print parts, tooling and fixtures with a higher strength-to-weight ratio than 6061-T6 aluminum.
Composite parts are stronger and stiffer than aluminum
The ability to 3D print composite materials is a big deal since the resulting parts are stronger than CNC-machined aluminum, opening up the technology to even more applications. Parts printed in composites are also both stronger and stiffer than the more common 3D printing material, plastic; 20 times stiffer and five times stronger, to be exact.
Designed to be aesthetically pleasing, the Mark One 3D printer can print in carbon fiber, fiberglass, nylon and PLA.
The brain behind the product belongs to Greg Mark, an MIT graduate, who got the idea for the Mark One after a stint in the aerospace industry. One of the things that struck me when seeing the system for the first time was how pretty it was. Yes, I said pretty.
Mark says this is no accident. “We wanted it to look cool,” says Mark. The first version was “clunky” so his team consulted with industrial engineers to make the system aesthetically pleasing, patterning it after Apple products. The rationale: make it attractive since it will likely be sitting right in the engineers’ workspaces.
System offers users choice of materials
The Mark One offers users a choice of materials: carbon fiber, fiberglass, nylon and PLA. The system also improves bed leveling with the addition of kinematic coupling. The bed clicks into the same place every time, saving users significant time.
The unit will sell for $5,000. Though an exact ship date has not been announced, the company is taking preorders on its web site.