updated 03:39 pm EST, Wed January 29, 2014
New printer can print models with a single material, or fiber fusion
The main weakness of commercial-grade 3D printers is the tensile strength of the objects printed, according to printer company Mark Forged. The new Mark One 3D printer, unveiled at the SolidWorks World Convention in San Diego, CA, is the first multi-material printer for small print runs designed for carbon fiber extrusion, either solely or in conjunction with fiberglass, nylon, and PLA plastic.
The company behind the the printer claims that composite filament fabrication allows users to 3D print parts that are stronger than CNC machined aluminum by weight. The resultant print is up to 20x stiffer than ABS, and five times stronger, depending on model design.
The maximum build size is 12 x 6.25 x 6.26 inches. The highest layer resolution for composite filament fabrication is 200 microns. Fused filament fabrication is limited to 100 microns.
The software that runs the printer runs on OS X 10.7 (Lion) and above , or Windows XP and greater. Supported files are the .STL and .OBJ formats. Models can be imported directly to the printer by SD card, and the printer connects to a computer through Wi-Fi or USB.
Pricing is estimated to be $5,000. Preorders have commenced on the unit.