Markforged Releases Carbon Fiber 3D Printing Filament >

A lightweight steering wheel, 3D printed with onyx from Markforged.  (Courtesy Markforged.)

Markforged launches carbon fiber 3D printing filament
Michael Molitch-Hou published June 29, 2016 |

To add extra strength to carbon fiber reinforced parts, Markforged unveils the Onyx carbon fiber filament …

Markforged shook the world of 3D printing when the company first unveiled its technology two years ago that allows objects to be fed continuous strands of fiber reinforcement material into objects during 3D printing. Since then, Markforged has continued to improve its Continuous Filament Fabrication (CFF) process, expanding the materials used to reinforce 3D printed parts. The company’s latest development is a new filament called Onyx.

A lightweight steering wheel, 3D printed with onyx from Markforged. (Courtesy Markforged.)

CFF works by combining a base material with reinforced fibers to make strong, lightweight parts at a reduced cost. Continuous strands of carbon fiber, glass fiber, Kevlar or high temperature resistant glass fiber are fed through a nozzle onto the print bed, while a second nozzle deposits the base material. In the past this base material was a basic nylon filament. Now there is onyx, however.

Onyx is a composite filament made of nylon and chopped carbon fiber that enables the combined strength of both materials. While the carbon fiber makes Onyx 3.5 times stiffer than the company’s standard nylon, the nylon is said to make the material tough and wear-resistant. Onyx also has a heat dissipation temperature of 145 ° C.

Onyx has a smooth finish that doesn't require a lot of post-processing.  (Courtesy Markforged.)

Onyx has a smooth finish that doesn’t require a lot of post-processing. (Courtesy Markforged.)

Markforged also claims that onyx improved dimensional stability so it doesn’t warp due to the decrease in thermal deformation and the increase in heat dissipation as the material is printed. According to the company, this allows for larger, steeper overhangs with no drips and sharper edges, as well as parts that are more similar to the CAD models.

The aesthetic properties of the material then contribute to an overall improved appearance compared to nylon parts as well as less post-processing, says Markforged. The translucent nature of the nylon made the internal reinforcement material more visible to the viewer, but onyx has a matte black appearance so it can be used for consumer facing parts.

A consumer-oriented product with 3D printed parts made from onyx.  (Courtesy Markforged.)

A consumer-oriented product with 3D printed parts made from onyx. (Courtesy Markforged.)

By combining CFF with chopped carbon fiber filaments, the company can further increase the strength of its materials. However, parts 3D printed using the CFF process may not be as complex as 3D printed objects without continuous fiber reinforcement, which means there is some trade-off between part complexity and strength. Even so, CFF is the only desktop technology that allows users to create parts with real carbon fiber reinforcement. It may be perfect for replacing CNC milling.

Next, Markforged needs to work on getting its machine 100 times its size so that it can compete with EnvisionTEC’s new large fiber composite 3D printer. Until then, sample parts made of onyx can be purchased here or potential customers can see whether their local Markforged 3D hub has onyx in stock.

It should be noted that Onyx only works with the Enterprise version of the Mark Two 3D printer. If you don’t own this powerful machine, you should take a look at the carbon fiber reinforced nylon from 3DXTech.

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