Via TCT : Back in 2014, Markforged made a splash at Solidworks World by launching a 3D printer capable of embedding carbon fibre into parts for added strength. At CES 2017, it’s back with a machine capable of printing in metal.
The Metal X, which Laura got a closer look at on the CES 2017 show floor as you can see above, uses what Markforged is calling Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM). Parts are printed using an FDM method that is able to lay down titanium, stainless steel, tool steel, Inconel and aluminium.
Not unlike the XJet process, MarkForged says that the parts are printed using metal powders surrounded in a material that is dissolved away during a sintering process, which leaves you with a fully dense metal object.
“If you can afford a million dollar metal 3D printer, buy one. For the rest of the world, this is for you.” say Greg Mark Co-Founder and CEO.
The Metal X will also inspect your part during its print using in-process laser inspection that is linked to the cloud-based software, Eiger. On the software, which was designed for its latest generation of composite 3D printers the Mark Two, the user can inspect each layer as it is printed to see how the part has been laid down.
Although the process of using a largely metal filament that is extruded using a plastic that is then dissolved during sintering is not new. The Virtual Foundry successfully funded its range of filaments called “Filamet”, through Kickstarter back in February 2015. Virtual Foundry claimed that it could create pure bronze, copper and brass materials using any desktop 3D printer capable of printing PLA and a sintering oven.
It would be fair to say that Virtual Foundry’s material has not exactly set the world alight but MarkForged’s reputation for quality and reliability has seen it become a 3D printer of choice in many job shops. This exciting development in metals will be in response to customer feedback and like all of the products by the company ran by MIT scholar, Greg Mark, is thoroughly thought through.
What with the anticipation surrounding Desktop Metal and this early launch by Markforged, 2017 could be a very exciting year for affordable metal 3D printing.