Friday, June 30, 2017

MarkForged 3D Printers Special Sauce

I see the Markforged printer and was wondering how it did what it does, and why is it worth the $5000-$10000 price tag?

Finally found a video explaining it, and well the only secret sauce is the advertising.

The filament they sell is basically a regular plastic CF filled filament with proper engineering data sheets.  Wether the data sheet is real or just copy and paste from the manufacturers spec sheet is unknown.

The strands of fiber are essentially the same thing that you can buy on eBay as Kevlar thread. It's quite cheap.  It prints a layer then basically irons the fiber into the surface and has a cutter in the head of the printer.  That's it.

I am surprised no one has released a DIY version of this already, patents be damned.

Yeah it's a nice machine and the custom slicer software, I would pay maybe $500-$1000 for, but the printer itself?  It's a $1500 printer being sold for $10000.  Add another $200 if they are using Euro or Japanese linear guides vs China parts.

The metal sintering idea isn't that new.  It has been speculated and debated in the industry for several years.  

Looks basically a guy like myself with more cash than I got spent some experimenting time.  I was thinking about this process a couple years ago.

The microwave crucibles are a common ceramic pottery crafts item. Metal filled filament can be purchased from Protopasta, or even no name China stuff now. If I need a really high metal content filament, I'll give a guy in China that I know a call and order a batch.

This reminds me of the big marketing push last year about the supposed new high strength high temp PLA plastic.

It gets annealed in a oven at 100c for a hour which raises the melt point and increases strength.  It was a big thing... Until people discovered that ALL PLA plastics have the same qualities, not just the magic stuff from Protopasta.  

If you want to do laser metal sintering 3D printing.. It isn't hard..  I can build one for probably around $10,000 counting my experimentation costs for the first unit and bring it in at maybe $2000 per unit production price for a co2 laser based model and if you want something really fast, a fiber laser based model for probably around $25,000 development and $9500 per unit production costs.

Most of the software is already released open source, the hardware is open source, it's basically just putting the bits together and tuning it.