Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - 46

SPECIAL SECTION Additive Manufacturing

electric car manufacturer
tesla uses markforged products
to produce turbines with 3-d
printed housing.

itive combat robot teams use Markforged's 3-D printers. "We've seen a lot
of the larger enterprises pick up our
printers," says Gumbert, vice president of marketing at Markforged.
Markforged's core client base is
located in North America but its 3-D
printers also have a strong presence
in Germany and other parts of western Europe. Further, the company
has established itself in the Australian
market and is in the early stages of entering Japan.
Although the Mark X is now the
company's flagship printer, the desktop Mark Two remains its most popular product. At about the size of a
shoebox, the Mark Two build plate
is large enough to suit about 80 percent of the tooling and fixtures that
customers need, according to Markforged. The machine is known for
its reliability and uses carbon-reinforced nylon material to produce
end-use parts from CAD drawings in
only a few hours.
The Mark X, on the other hand, is
about the size of a microwave with a
build volume 2.7-times the Mark Two
and is suitable for larger components
46

manufacturing-today.com JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017

such as automotive components,
spinning gears, grippers, functional
prototypes, robotics and prosthetics.
Advanced printer technology is
only part of the company's overall
strategy for the additive manufacturing market. Markforged is the only
company in the industry that develops its own software and specialty materials alongside its printers to ensure
all three work together in a cohesive
way. "We're thinking about the whole
3-D printer experience, not just the
hardware," Senior Product Marketing
Manager Rebecca Dilthey says.
By controlling all three areas of
3-D printing - the machine, the software and the material - Markforged
can act as a complete solution while
ensuring compatibility.
Many 3-D printers require extensive
training to operate and usually only
a few people on the manufacturing
floor are qualified to run the machines.
The select few who receive the training then become gatekeepers to the
technology. Limiting who uses the 3-D
printers can create bottlenecks in production if that person is unavailable.
But because Markforged's products all

work in tandem, the company was able
to develop an intuitive process that
does not require special training.
"Our design point is to make it easy
for everyone with some level of engineering and CAD experience to use
it," Gumbert explains. She adds that it
takes less than two hours from the time
a person is introduced to the hardware
to when they are ready to print.
An easy-to-use process is also easy
to teach. Markforged largely relies on
its resellers to conduct training sessions and hold demonstrations of its
3-D printers. Resellers teach customers how to use the machines for part
design, then follow up with support
for optimizing software and to provide service if an issue arises.

Better Control
Markforged credits its growing popularity around the world to its patented
continuous fiber filament technologies
and Eiger software. Eiger takes a .STL
file - exported from CAD software -
and automatically creates a fiber pattern that maximizes strength, resulting in complex and strong designs that
would be almost impossible to match
through traditional machining.
"In order to engineer and print
composites it requires governing
the direction of where the fiber goes
and how it's laid down," Gumbert explains. "That's all done by the Eiger
software." Eiger taps into an online
network and can be used to create a
collaborative printing environment
among the customer's production
team, she adds.
Most 3-D printers slice the CAD file
and print the component from the
design. Markforged's machines actually analyze the design and then determine how to reinforce the part with
fiber. This customizable and easy-touse method creates opportunities for


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017

Table Of Contents
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - 1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Table Of Contents
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - 3
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Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Cover3
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