ShopWare and Markforged

We had a visit from ShopWare during our open night on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019. They thought we might be interested in seeing a Markforged 3D printer capable of printing with nylon, Kevlar, and carbon fiber. And they were right, we were interested!

They showed a few videos that featured the capabilities of very strong 3D printed parts, and then answered questions, and had a number of samples to pass around and show off. They also brought a Mark Two for us to take a look at.

One of the weird things about how the Mark Two functioned was that it homed the x and y after every layer it printed. It also lowered the z just a bit while it homed the x and y, then raised the z back up to meet the extruder (which was dripping a small bit of filament) before then starting a new layer. (None of us could figure out why it was doing that, or what benefit it offered, though we had some guesses.)

These appear to be some sort of brake lever, maybe for a bicycle or motor cycle. They were very strong. There was no flex at all when trying to bend them by hand. Typically parts printed with PLA or ABS feel pretty “breakable” but these seemed like you’d need some tools to break them. (I really wanted to crush one in the hydraulic press when no one was looking!)

Printed threads are no problem, and again, appeared to be very strong, and the ball joint moved pretty good.

The metal part was not printed on the Mark Two, but another Markforged printer. The part gets processed after it’s printed, so it shrinks a bit, but the software deals with sizing up your model before printing so it comes out the correct size when done. We’re pretty sure this part was “finished” a bit after printing as well, perhaps on a lathe, which would explain why the rounded part is polished while the flat hexagonal part is not.

While the extreme cold weather kept some members away, we had a pretty good turnout to welcome ShopWare, and for those who were there, got to see some cool technology we home to someday have a the space.