World’s First 3D Carbon Fiber Printer Available Soon for $5K

All the wildest dreams of auto and motorcycle enthusiasts will soon come true, as they will be able to 3D print custom carbon fiber parts for their rides.

Mark One, the 3D carbon fiber printer developed by MarkForged, could open a new world for manufacturers of aftermarket parts for cars and motorcycles. Its capabilities and uniqueness are not the only things that set it apart from the other 3D printers out there, but also the fact that it’s incredibly affordable.

The objects printed by the Mark One can measure up to 305 x 160 x 160 mm (12 x 6.25 x 6.25 in). Besides carbon fiber, this unique 3D printer can also handle fiberglass, nylon and polylactic acid (PLA), so the diversity of aftermarket automotive parts is only limited by the imagination (and the CAD skills) of the ones using it. Unlike Stratasys’ latest 3D printer, which prints using up to 3 materials at a time, the MarkForged Mark One only prints one material at a time.

In the recent past, carbon fiber has become one of the favorite materials in the automotive and aerospace industries. The light weight and the extreme strength of this fiber has made it great for such applications.

MarkForged President Gregory Mark (I see what he did there, by adding his name to the company’s in an inconspicuous way) also co-owns Aeromotions, a manufacturer of computer controlled aerodynamic carbon fiber spoiler wings for high-performance race cars, so we can already see where some of the things printed by the Mark One will go to.

MarkForged also pride themselves with Mark One’s great accuracy. Placing the printing tray in exactly the same spot between layers is essential, and since the removable platform of this 3D carbon fiber printer clips back in with 10-micron accuracy, there’s not much more you could ask.

At $5,000, MarkForged Mark One is incredibly priced, and there’s no doubt that many auto makers will pick one up as soon as it becomes available. However, as in the case of regular printers, it’s not the Mark One that costs a lot, but its consumables. You think that carbon fiber and fiberglass grows in trees? The idea is that manufacturers of aftermarket car parts would have bought CF for their products anyway, so the printer might actually help them become more accurate and more creative.

If you liked this post, please check the Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 Color Mutli-material 3D Printer and the 3D printed organs that will be made by Organovo in 2014.