CAMX 2014 preview: MarkForged

MarkForged (Cambridge, Mass.) is featuring in its CAMX booth the Mark One, an additive manufacturing (AM) 3-D printer that produces parts made with continuous carbon fiber in a thermoplastic resin.

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MarkForged (Cambridge, Mass.) is featuring in its CAMX booth the Mark One, an additive manufacturing (AM) 3-D printer that produces parts made with continuous carbon fiber in a thermoplastic resin. The Mark One has two print heads, both designed and built by the company. One dispenses polyamide (nylon) or polylactide (PLA) resin, and the second dispenses a continuous towpreg, either carbon or glass (dispensing of aramid fiber is in development). The towpreg is made in a proprietary process: A single carbon filament is coated with a specially developed thermoplastic resin, designed specifically for the printer. The Mark One uses fused deposition modeling (FDM), an extrusion-like process, for placement of resin and towpreg in the flat x/y plane of the part. The company says that the fiber can be oriented, or added selectively only where needed, in the x/y plane, but notes that, at present, vertical, or z-directional, orientations aren’t possible. Each build layer is approximately 200 microns thick.

The “stage” on which deposition takes place is a plastic platform, to which the polyamide or PLA resin adheres, similar to other AM machines. The finished part is scraped off when finished and the platform lasts for roughly 100 prints. Unique to the Mark One is the use of a high-precision “kinematic coupling” to precisely level and fix the build platform. Used in silicon wafer processing, the coupling precisely constrains all six degrees of freedom so that the build stage can simply be “clicked” into place. Set-to-reset leveling is reportedly repeatable to within 10 microns. 

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