Since it debuted on the market last year, the Mark One 3D printer has changed the way people think about 3D printed objects.

The MarkForged printer is a huge milestone in the quest to streamline the design process. How? It prints plastic parts that can be reinforced with three types of material: carbon fiber, Kevlar, and fiberglass. This allows users to — for the first time — create both working prototypes and high-quality end-use products.

Mark One 3D Printer

The Mark One 3D Printer by MarkForged.

These frequently asked questions shed light on the basics of Mark One 3D printer and its unique printing process.

What makes the Mark One different from other 3D printers?

The Mark One uses CFF™ (Composite Filament Fabrication™), a new 3D printing process, in combination with traditional fused filament fabrication (FFF). Parts made with CFF™ are reinforced by continuous strands of fibers, which are embedded in a thermoplastic matrix.

What is a composite?

According to Wikipedia, composite materials are “materials made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties, that when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components.”

What’s the difference between thermoset materials and thermoplastic materials?

When thermoset materials (e.g. two-part epoxy) are cured, they solidify and cannot be melted. Thermoplastics, on the other hand, can be re-melted and are typically tougher.

If you don’t use an epoxy (thermosets), how does CFF™ work?

We developed a thermoplastic blend specifically formulated for good adhesion to carbon fiber and our FFF nylon blend. It is non-toxic and does not require post curing.

Do parts printed by the Mark One require curing or post-processing?

No. CFF™ utilizes a thermoplastic matrix that solidifies immediately after extrusion. CFF™ parts are ready for use as soon as they have finished printing.

How do composites printed on the Mark One compare to those built with traditional methods?

Parts printed on the Mark One™ can be designed to be stronger than 6061-T6 aluminum by weight and up to 1/3 the strength of the best carbon fiber composites made today. Performance data was collected from 3-point bend testing on an Instron® universal testing machine in the preferred fiber orientation.

How is the Mark One different from automated fiber placement (AFP) machines?

AFP machines automate composite lay-up of large parts on the surface of a mold. CFF™ does not require a mold, operates at high resolution, and our dual-head systems allow for the seamless integration of pure thermoplastic regions within the part. Complex shapes such as honeycomb can be printed between layers of composite and intricate details can be added to the exterior that would be too small to be printed with continuous strand composite materials.

Can I use third party materials with the Mark One?

No. The composite resin system in the CFF™ filament is optimized to work with our nylon blend. Using a 3rd party resin will not be supported and will void the warranty on the printhead.

Want to learn more about this awesome machine? Give us a call at 408-986-0200, and we’d be happy to discuss specs, set up a demo, and figure out how much time and money a composite 3D printer can save your organization. Or drop us an email here.