Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Technology

New 3D Printer Can Print With Carbon Fiber 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the harder-better-faster-stronger dept.
cold fjord sends this news from Popular Mechanics: "[M]aking custom racecar parts out of carbon fiber is daunting. The only real method available is CNC machining, an expensive and difficult process that requires laying pieces by hand. To improve the process, [Gregory Mark] looked to 3D printing. But nothing on the market could print the material, and no available materials could print pieces strong enough for his purposes. So Mark devised his own solution: the MarkForged Mark One, the world's first carbon fiber 3D printer. Mark debuted his Boston area-based startup MarkForged at SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego with a working prototype. The Mark One can print in carbon fiber, fiberglass, nylon and PLA (a thermoplastic). ... The main advantage of the Mark One: It can print parts 20 times stiffer and five times stronger than ABS, according to the company. It even has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than CNC-machined aluminum. ... Mark says that he imagines this machine is for anybody who wants to print in a material as strong as aluminum. Beyond racecars, it could be useful to industries like prosthetics."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New 3D Printer Can Print With Carbon Fiber

Comments Filter:
  • Beats colour.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by webmistressrachel (903577) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @09:03PM (#46096341) Journal

    This is the first materials advance I've seen in ages, bar superficial things like the ability to make ridiculously expensive full-colour prototypes of things that need moulding to make en masse.

    • by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @09:57AM (#46099311)

      bar superficial things like the ability to make ridiculously expensive full-colour prototypes of things that need moulding to make en masse.

      Superficial? Hardly. Tooling is incredibly expensive for molded plastic products and 3D printers make producing small quantities of plastic parts MUCH cheaper in many cases. If you think this is unimportant or trivial then you are wrong. This is a Very Big Deal.

      • Ah, I think I get what you're trying to explain to me, you're saying that injection moulding and other trad methods can be beat on price, by current printers, for niche (short-run) products? Is this the case?

        • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @12:13PM (#46100391)

          Ah, I think I get what you're trying to explain to me, you're saying that injection moulding and other trad methods can be beat on price, by current printers, for niche (short-run) products? Is this the case?

          Yes. Doing a mould for injection moulding can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000+, which is where most of the setup costs go. After that, you can stamp out thousands of parts using ti for pennies each.

          A 3D printer is ideal for small runs (under 1000 or so) because while each part is more expensive, you're not incurring expensive NRE in making a mould. And depending on the quantity, you can save some time since you don't have to wait for the mould to be machined and tested (which can take weeks).

          Before that you really only had CNC machining and vacu-forming to make parts. Today, you have an additive process (3D printing).

          I suppose the next revolution would be a combined 3D printer and CNC mill - the CNC is great for shaving stuff off bulk (something 3D printing does poorly - the more solid there is, the harder it is to printer), while 3D printing can be used to make structures that are impossible via a single piece.

          • You talking to the wrong crowd.
            They figure the final cost of the product should be the same as the cost per unit, without all those other expenses that add up too.
            There is a big market for custom designed stuff where you may only make a few of them. Or say in term prognostics, you will be making only one, that has the ideal fit.

        • Ah, I think I get what you're trying to explain to me, you're saying that injection moulding and other trad methods can be beat on price, by current printers, for niche (short-run) products? Is this the case?

          Correct. There are very large tooling costs that have to be amortized into the piece price for traditional methods. The cost of the plastic itself is generally only a concern at high volumes because it is very low compared with the cost of tooling at low volumes. Tooling and overhead are fixed costs (same price whether you produce 1 or 1 million) whereas plastic and direct labor are variable costs (same price per unit regardless of number produced). Piece price = Variable Costs + (Fixed Costs / Number o

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Yes, for things that don't need cost-efficient production or mechanical strength, 3D printing is wonderful. But that's mostly limited to prototyping and limited run parts that can stand being far weaker than their base material would suggest.

        This advance is positioned to start things changing - I had been wondering when it would come. Carbon fiber construction actually gets much of its strength from the alignment of the fiber itself, and a 3D printer seems like an ideal system to maximize that advantage.

  • i don't get it (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @09:07PM (#46096373)

    It isn't going to have the strength of carbon fibre done properly so its useless for the types of applications where that strength matters and it isn't going to have the distinctive CF look so its useless for aesthetic applications.

    • It's a nice leap forward. With Dell and Makerbot spreading the tech around, I expect innovations like this to improve exponentially.

      It won't be long before the technology is incredibly improved and ridiculously inexpensive.

      Popular Science: Make Your Own Drone at Home.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dAzED1 (33635)
      First result from me when I google "useful things with a 3d printer" is an article which includes a garlic press, cherry pit remover, and door hook. All these things require more strength than what consumer-level 3d printers can actually muster. Getting more strength in the process is indeed an issue, so...permit me to disagree that there isn't someplace worthwhile between ABS and true carbon-fiber...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I've had hands-on experience with a 1x RepRap that was shoddily built, 1x RepRap that was well-built, and one older MakerBot.
        All most definitely could produce things with the strength to properly do a garlic press, cherry pit remover, or door hook... though the RepRap would make something that LOOKS rubbish, it would most definitely have the strength.

      • Re:i don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by csumpi (2258986) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:48PM (#46097167)
        Yes, that' what I thought, too. Until I built a 3d printer, spent time to calibrate it and learned how to use it.

        Now I can make things much much stronger than a garlic press.
      • Must have been an April fools article. Since when is a garlic press useful? Nevertheless, all of those thing can work just fine with ABS plastic, since they are primarily compressive loads.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PijBtGqLhs [youtube.com]
        • Must have been an April fools article. Since when is a garlic press useful?

          In my case, since last night when I made dinner. A garlic press smashes cell walls in a way that results in more intense flavor (and less graininess) than simply mincing.

          Nevertheless, all of those thing can work just fine with ABS plastic, since they are primarily compressive loads.

          That part I'm more skeptical about, since I have a plastic potato ricer: something very definitely compressive. And I always worry that the handle or plunger will snap when I feed it an especially stubborn load. The handle is more of a shearing load, but the plunger is pure compression.

          • It'll probably last untill the plastic wears off from UV radiation or too many cycles of hydratation and deshydratation.

            Anyway, mass made utensils have extremely low tolerance margins, because those margins cost full cents on evey piece, and those pieces are produced in the milions. I wouldn't print something with such low tolerances because both:

            1 - I want it to last, not to sell another iten in a couple of years.
            2 - I don't want to spend engineering time fine tunning the resistence.
            3 - I don't like tools

        • If you can't get work done because people keep stopping by your cube to bug you about trivia, a garlic press can be very useful indeed.
          • If you can't get work done because people keep stopping by your cube to bug you about trivia, a garlic press can be very useful indeed.

            Sigh! Stuck in a cube farm in Transylvania.

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          >since they are primarily compressive loads.

          Hardly. They're primarily flexing and shearing loads, which involve both tension and compression in opposition along opposite side of a part. Just look at where the forces are concentrated in a garlic press: The handles, which will want to bend. The hinges, which will want to displace (socket) or shear(pin). And the press itself, where the plunger is in compression, but the screen is very much in tension and shear.

          Oh wait, just watched the vid and that's

    • Re:i don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oscrivellodds (1124383) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:34PM (#46097095)

      It may not have the strength of CF done properly, but it will be much stronger than the alternatives like ABS and PLA. There are plenty of applications where that "between" strength is useful. The claim is that it is stiffer and stronger than 6061 aluminum. That means you don't have to go into a machine shop to cut a bunch of 6061 aluminum- you can print a part and get similar characteristics. The 3D printer doesn't care how complex the design is- it will produce it at much lower cost than a machine shop full of mills and guys who know how to run them.

    • Re: i don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @09:31AM (#46099097)
      If it is as strong as aluminum, it may be suitable for 3D printing AR-15 lowers. You think the moral panic around 3D printing crappy guns that only work a few times is bad, imagine the news field day when we can print the registered part of an AR and have it be just as durable or more so than existing polymer lowers.
    • It has a better strength to weight ratio than machined aluminium. That in and of itself is huge.
  • Er... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Psychopath (18031) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @09:18PM (#46096437) Homepage

    "The only real method available is CNC machining, an expensive and difficult process that requires laying pieces by hand."

    CNC means Computer Numerical Controlled, which isn't remotely similar to laying out sheets of resin-bonded carbon fiber by hand. Or are they forming blocks of fiber made out of a lot of bonded sheets, and then CNC-milling them into shapes? That seems like a pointless waste. Very confusing sentence, there.

    • Re:Er... what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by NoKaOi (1415755) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @09:47PM (#46096593)

      "The only real method available is CNC machining, an expensive and difficult process that requires laying pieces by hand."

      CNC means Computer Numerical Controlled, which isn't remotely similar to laying out sheets of resin-bonded carbon fiber by hand. Or are they forming blocks of fiber made out of a lot of bonded sheets, and then CNC-milling them into shapes? That seems like a pointless waste. Very confusing sentence, there.

      There are two ways carbon fiber is generally done...you can CNC a part (usually out of foam, sometimes wood) and then wrap it in carbon fiber, or for repeatability you can CNC a mold and hand lay the carbon fiber in that. Yes, the sentence was poorly written for the layperson, but if you've worked with composites before you'd know what it means.

      • how do you 3d print carbon fibre??? how is that even possible? and the sentence isn't poorly written in regards to CNC, its just nonsense.

        • Try RTFA and go to the website http://markforged.com/ [markforged.com]

          You can see a video of the machine in action. It appears that it lays down strips of carbon fiber... Not sure the exact mechanism, the quality, or anything like that, but the machine is printing SOMETHING.

          • by wagnerrp (1305589)
            So prepreg? Or is it filament winding?
          • by gl4ss (559668)

            to me it just looked like they were printing this stuff "http://www.3ders.org/articles/20131027-proto-pasta-adds-three-new-materials-for-your-desktop-3d-printer.html"

            (that's carbon fibre reinforced pla.. stuff that you can put through any reprap).

      • You can also take a mold from a prototype 'plug", rather than CNCing a mold.

        • by NoKaOi (1415755)

          You can also take a mold from a prototype 'plug", rather than CNCing a mold.

          Good point, making a mold from a plug is common too. My first sentence should have said, "There are two ways carbon fiber is generally done using a CNC..." I hadn't intended to say that using a CNC was the only common way it's done, oops.

    • Re:Er... what? (Score:4, Informative)

      by KingOfBLASH (620432) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @09:52PM (#46096647) Journal

      If you read TFS he says specifically "CNC-machined aluminum"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I was about to post the exact same thing. That sentence appears to have been written by someone who has no idea what CNC machining is, nor any real idea how things are made with carbon fiber. There are actually a number of different processes used to make things out of carbon fiber, and CNC machining may be used to finish the parts (add holes or trim edges) but it is not used in the basic manufacturing.

      What this thing "looks" like it does is use individual CF strands (or fiberglass or nylon) and lays them d

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oh now come ON, how the fuck does anyone with even a passing knowledge of CF production get the summary so fuckign incredibly wrong? CNC would be to create the MOLD. You dont bloody well layer CF by a goddamn CNC and most of the CF for racecars is layered over the mold by hand.

    Now the idea of 3D printing CF isnt a bad idea - the secret to CF strength is getting the strands in the right direction and the resins used / curing time. I can see how this could work and it is somethign to check out. But holy fuck

    • by csumpi (2258986)

      with even a passing knowledge of [place any topic here] get the summary so fuckign incredibly wrong?

      Welcome to slashdot.

    • by wagnerrp (1305589)

      You dont bloody well layer CF by a goddamn CNC

      Actually, you do. CNC just means computer numeric control. It doesn't necessarily mean an end mill, lathe, or other traditional machining tool. In many applications, you can robotically layer carbon fiber over your mold. For example, the Boeing 787 [youtube.com].

  • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @09:49PM (#46096615)
    Just you fucking wait.

    We're half way to printing a Gallardo.
    • For many many years it's been possible to buy parts that allow you to change a car to look like your favorite super car. Just do a quick google for "Kit Car." $10k + an appropriate body to put the kit on will allow you to have your very own knock off.

      However, just because you CAN get parts that look like a lambo doesn't mean people run out of their way to get one. I suspect it will be the same. After you pay $10k to print up a Gallardo shell, you still need to install the thing. Which takes time and sk

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)

        What's interesting is that'd you'd be able to print replacement parts. Autoparts are a big deal. And autobody is a big racket I mean, industry.

        • Yes but who will install the parts?

          Today you can go online and order after market parts from a company specializing in making replacement parts. But if you need to go to the dealership to get your car serviced it won't help because they'll still use genuine parts. Servicing yourself is still an issue unless you are a gear head

          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            There are a lot of gear heads. There are also a lot of independent mechanics. More than dealer mechanics, actually.

          • by mjwx (966435)

            Yes but who will install the parts?

            Today you can go online and order after market parts from a company specializing in making replacement parts. But if you need to go to the dealership to get your car serviced it won't help because they'll still use genuine parts. Servicing yourself is still an issue unless you are a gear head

            What kind of idiot takes a car to a dealership. Once you're past warranty, you've got to be certifiably insane to go to a dealer.

            Dealers services are a rip off and as soon as the dealer is no longer legally obligated to fix anything that goes wrong (statutory warranty) you're a complete fool if you go there and as soon as you mod a car, statutory warranties go out the window. I have a 7 yr old Honda Integra, Honda want $600 odd for a minor service, my mechanic who specialises in Japanese performance cars

            • by geekoid (135745)

              People who are willing to pay more to have someone they trust and someone they can take action against.
              You would have to be insane to take a car to a random jack hole who may, or may not have actual experience with your car and the issue at hand.

              " statutory warranties go out the window."
              False. Only the warranty the part you modded, as per the law.

              My dealership charge a little more then local shops, but I don't mind paying a little more to a shop the pays decently and if something should go wrong.
              Plus the de

              • by mjwx (966435)

                People who are willing to pay more to have someone they trust and someone they can take action against.

                LoL. You have no more rights with a dealer than you have with a smaller operation. Conversely, you have the same legal protections no matter where you go.

                False. Only the warranty the part you modded, as per the law.

                And any parts that may be affected by it. You need to read up on the law

                My dealership charge a little more then local shops, but I don't mind paying a little more to a shop the pays decentl

          • by geekoid (135745)

            Actually, the vast majority of car part could be removed and replace by YOU.

            I would say anything the doesn't involve removing the valve cover, or removing the dash board.

            Mechanic don't have magic information., have some confidence. Hell, find a broken down car someone wants to get rid of POS and take it apart to see what it's like, then have it towed to the salvage yard. That way you aren't afraid of breaking anything, and you can get your hands dirty.

      • Yeah but that is because the bodies are fibre glass, look rubbish and don't perform as well as the cars they are copying (weight strength etc). Building a carbon fibre shell is something else entirely. You are getting most of the benefit that the cars you are copying and you are using the best material. Sure you might not get the strength of a cross woven sheet but it will be a damn sight better than what is available now. And the whole idea isn't of getting a Gallardo for cheap, it is to build an incredib
        • Yeah but there's a LOT that goes under that carbon fiber shell. A shell alone is useless.

          You can build a kit car out of an old pontiac that doesn't go fast but doesn't look nice, or you can build it out of something with balls like a Corvette or Porsche that won't do the same in time trials as a Lamborghini, but it sure will go fast.

          Comments like this make me laugh because we are a long way from a star trek style replicator that can just make a car appear. Best case scenario now is that if you have one of

    • Just you fucking wait. We're half way to printing a Gallardo.

      I will host the fucker. Gonna need a server than a car can sit on. Also a Ethernet to Tailpipe adapter.......

    • How far are we from that Gallardo actually firing up and going around the track?

      Until that point, you might as well get the die-cast one, it takes less space in the living room.

  • I need to know these things...for scientific purposes..
    • People 3D print molds for latex all the time. Be it for your "science", latex appliances for makeup, or a host of other things. You can even make one time molds that you have to destroy to remove for really complex shapes.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @11:07PM (#46096975) Journal

    Beyond racecars, it could be useful to industries like prosthetics

    Carbon-fiber bicycle frames are very labor-intensive to manufacture which is a major reason why they're so expensive. This technology could bring the price down to the cost of an aluminum frame, or maybe even lower.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I doubt it. The strength and weight of CF are very dependent on the manufacturing technique used. CF bike frames are designed using software than can model the forces produced by the rider and road and the resulting effect on the CF frame including CF characteristics that result from the manufacturing techniques to be employed. The 3D printing technique is unlikely to produce a maximum strength or minimum weight frame, compared to the currently used CF frame manufacturing techniques.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Uhh... let's revisit your comment in a couple years. The 3D printing technology is improving constantly.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I agree. When the computer model can take into account the capabilities of a carbon fiber 3D printer, instead of beling limited to the capabilities of a human laying down carbon fiber weave on a CNCed mold, it can make a much more detailed frame where no cf is wasted and strain is much more evenly distributed. Since the machine lays down a continuous fiber instead of a premade weave, you have full control of fiber direction. Only that will be a big improvement.

    • by snero3 (610114)
      Bam, my thoughts exactly.
  • Carbon fibre 3d printer + printable firearms = victory

    Pre-packaged unprinted mai order firearms, plug into the point and push the big green with the label "Begin Revolution".
    • Once again, this time in English, please.

      • "This time in English"

        Headline - Domestic Terrorists 3D printing Weapons of Mass Destruction for Sole Purpose of Kindergarden Massacres and Granny Slaying forces Parliament to Implement New Amnesty Period for Handing Over All 3D Printing Related Paraphernalia Including Plastic Items, Icing Extruders, Remote Controlled Cars, and Computers Before Retroactive Ban is Enforced.

        Silly English.
      • Carbon fiber 3D printer + printable firearms = 3D Printers more tightly controlled than guns ever were.

  • Every time a new 3D printer is announced, the first thing I check on the specifications list is the bed size. This one is bigger than most, but still too small. It can print items 12"x6"x6"....perhaps enough for visual accessories like center console trim, mirrors, and hood vents, but you can't do door panels, or major body parts like the bumper.....let alone a carbon monocoque chassis. So tone down the delusions of printing a Lamborghini on your desktop for now. I can think of some non-automotive uses tho
    • door panels ... monocoque chassis ... So tone down the delusions of printing a Lamborghini on your desktop for now.

      There's still a way.
      Use the thing to print parts of a mould. Assemble mould. Place in swimming pool. Cover mould in aluminium sheet. Put long runs of shot cord in pool. Ignite shot cord - BOOM! Explosive formed parts!
      Stop laughing - someone actually made a boat hull in a similar way with a plywood mould a few decades ago.

      My point is that people shouldn't limit themselves to one process

  • I suspect that another fairly straightforward idea (automating the laying of carbon fiber in a 3D printer), and something every 3D printer would have done within a few years anyway, will be locked up in patent hell for 20 years. MarkForge itself will likely be bought by a big player like Stratasys, who will then ship $500k printers to the auto manufacturers.

    • Only $500k? I'm sure the 3D printers F1 teams use right now to rapid-prototype front wing & nose sections cost A LOT more than that.

  • I was expecting something large enough to print a seat, fender, or wing. My company has a carbon fiber fab division, this could be interesting, but we would need a print volume of at least 4' x 4'x 3'

    • Scaling the print volume is a fairly trivial but expensive thing. There are plenty of existing platforms to move a print head or just about anything around, they are expensive as they require a lot of precision and setup time.

  • Can imagine the wailing and nashing of all the 'concerned' mothers about a printer that can print a gun that can shoot more than once :-(

(1) Never draw what you can copy. (2) Never copy what you can trace. (3) Never trace what you can cut out and paste down.

Working...