Last week during SolidWords World 2014 Convention in San Diego, Ca., MarkForged released the world’s first 3D printer capable of printing with carbon fiber. Most 3D printers print in some plastic form. Carbon fiber is 20 times stiffer than standard ABS plastic and five times stronger. It also prints in fiberglass, nylon, and PLA (another commonly used plastic material). It gives users the ability to print their earliest prototype in PLA instead of the more costly carbon fiber material. The Mark One will cost $5,000 and features two spools– one for carbon fiber, one for PLA or Nylon. The Mark One also offers a self-leveling printing bed that checks its position before each print, a process called “kinematic coupling.”
According to a recent Popular Mechanics article, the Mark One printer was created to fill a void owner Gregory Mark – co-owner of Aeromotions, which builds computer-controlled racecar wings – discovered when trying to locate custom carbon fiber race car parts. With no solutions at hand, Mark decided to create a printer that could handle the job. Mark debuted his Boston area-based startup MarkForged and a working prototype of the Mark One at SolidWorks World, held January 26-29.
“We took the idea of 3D printing, that process of laying things down strand by strand, and we used it as a manufacturing process to make composite parts,” he said in an interview with PopMech. “We say it’s like regular 3D printers do the form. We do form and function.”