Carbon fibre is a wonderful material, strong and lightweight. But building with it is both intimidatingly complex and prohibitively expensive — which is why Mark Forged has developed this new 3D printer which can build objects layer-by-layer using the stuff.
Unveiled at SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego, the Mark One can print in carbon fibre, fibreglass, nylon and PLA. And perhaps most strikingly it looks sleek. Real sleek. Almost like Jony Ive has a hand in designing it. In fact, it measures just 58cm wide, 30cm tall and 33cm deep, so it could even sit on a desktop alongside your Mac, if you were so inclined.
The carbon fibre parts that the printer produces are 20 times stiffer and five times stronger than ABS, the commonly 3D-printed material, and have a higher strength-to-weight ratio than CNC-machined 6061-T6 aluminium. That's because, so Mark Forged claims, the printed objects are "packed with tens of thousands of full length, continuous carbon fibre strands."
Initially inspired by a desire to prototype racecar wings more quickly, there are many applications which would be well-served by the technology — from medical prosthetics to hobbyist drone manufacture. Fortunately, the printer won't be limited to commercial use when it goes on sale. Available for pre-order from February and shipping some time in the second half of the year, the Mark One will retail at $US5000. [Mark Forged via Popular Mechanics]