Markforged Takes Aim at Distributed Global Production

The FX20, which pairs size and throughput to make larger parts fast, supports ULTEM 9085 material for production-grade applications.

The FX20, which pairs size and throughput to make larger parts fast, supports ULTEM 9085 material for production-grade applications.

The FX20 is precision-designed and sensor-driven to deliver accuracy, quality, and reliability for distributed global production. Image Courtesy of Markforged

Markforged, already a player in industrial-grade additive manufacturing (AM), is upping the ante with the release of its new FX20 platform and support for the ULTEM 9085 material aimed at tackling distributed global production at scale.

As manufacturers grapple with on-going supply chain challenges and unrelenting cost pressures, they are taking a serious look at AM solutions as a way to streamline and localize production for specific high-performance, lower volume applications. That’s the market Markforged is targeting with the latest addition to its Digital Forge portfolio, its full stack AM solution that encompasses specific printer hardware, software, and materials.

Designed specifically to scale for distributed global production, the FX20 is precision-built and sensor-driven to deliver the accuracy, quality, and reliability necessary for fabricating for production-grade parts. The FX20 has a heated build chamber capable of maintaining up to a 200 degree Celsius temperature along with the capacity to print parts up to 525 mm x 400 mm x 400 mm in size. In addition, the FX20 operates up to eight times faster than the default settings on Markforged’s existing composite printers while printing nearly five times larger builds than the next largest printer in its line, the X7.

“The FX20 is the biggest, fastest, and most sophisticated 3D printer in the Markforged family,” says Tom Muscolo, the company’s director of product management. “The production speeds and performance of the materials set it apart and makes it suitable for high-value production in some of the most demanding industries.”

To deliver that level of high-performance and reliability, Markforged relies on high-powered motors, precision linear encoders on each axis for motion control, as well as a robust structure and frame. Sensors are placed all over the machine, including on the print head, in the build chamber, and in the materials cabinet, to monitor temperature and vibration to ensure thermal uniformity and quality of stored materials. “We’re monitoring everything that can effect print performance and have a closed loop control system to ensure great performance,” Muscolo says.

In addition to the new production-ready hardware, Markforged is offering support for ULTEM 9085, a proven flame-retardant, high-performance thermoplastic material. This material, coupled with Markforged’s proprietary Continuous Fiber Reinforcement printing technology, ensure high-strength, heat resistant, and high performance parts that can meet the needs of customers in the aerospace, defense, automotive, and oil & gas industries.

Along with the new printer/material combination, Markforged has released additional tools to foster distributed global production of AM. The Eiger Fleet cloud-based software, released in September, aims to transform AM from small-scale operations to a globally-connected and distributed manufacturing fleet through a secure and centralized source of control over a network of Markforged 3D printers. Eiger Fleet is designed to manage users, devices, and data, allowing greater control and efficiency for printing parts on demand at the point of need. The Blacksmith platform is another tool in the toolbox for enabling large-scale production printing. The software leverages federated learning and AI across Markforged’s fleet of connected 3D printers to compare what was intended to be printed with what was output as a way to enhance quality and inspection of parts.

“Because we do the whole stack of software, hardware, and materials, we have all the levers we need to pull to address the problems we’re trying to solve,” Muscolo says.

For a closer look at the FX20, check out this video.

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Beth Stackpole

Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to [email protected].

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