Markforged is one of the most prolific companies in additive manufacturing. Part of this success is due to their ability to capture such wide swathes of the market. With the announcement of a pair of new printers, Markforged has significantly diversified its portfolio. They now cover one of the widest range of prices and materials (if not the widest). Their new X3 and X5 machines are part of their wider industrial X series.
Aside from the new printers, the company has also decided to rebrand the Mark X as the X7. The prices on these new printers are quite low for industrial grade printers. Certain commentators are labelling the range of prices as a disruptive tactic that will strengthen their hold on the medium and low price range segment of the industrial device market.
The X3 and X5 Printers
The X3 is available for $36,990, a shockingly low price for an industrial grade printer. The printer strictly uses engineering-grade thermoplastics. The company’s flagship high-temperature-capable carbon fiber-filled nylon ‘Onyx’ gives it the ability to print unbelievably durable parts. Greg Mark, CEO, has stated that the X3 still has all kinds of automation built in at half the price. The Onyx is another manifestation of this price efficiency, as it is one of the cheapest and most functional high-temperature thermoplastics on the market.
Similarly, the X5 costs about $49,900. It also uses Onyx but with slight alterations. The X5 has the additional ability to reinforce the Onyx part with continuous fiber-glass. As a result, it can make composites 9X stronger and 10X stiffer than standard thermoplastics. Both machines (and the X7) offer a build volume of 300 x 270 x 200 mm and resolution of 50 μm.
The Increasing Move Towards Affordable Industrial Printers
As mentioned earlier, Markforged have one of the most diverse product portfolios in all of additive manufacturing. While the X series represents their interests in the thermoplastics and carbon fiber, the metal X series covers the metal side. It is one of the few metal printers under the $100,000 price range.
This recent move towards lower cost metal printers that have desktop capabilities is part of a wider trend within the industry. Previously, we’ve covered Desktop Metal, who have procured deals with tech giants like Google. While there’s still a long way for the metal printing industry to go till desktop printers become a common item as opposed to a luxury, companies are working fast to turn the tide.
“For 30 years, 3D printing customers have been forced to accept trade-offs between strength, time, and affordability — lacking the opportunity to benefit from all three. With the complete Industrial Series and new Metal X printer, these trade-offs no longer exist,” said Greg Mark, Markforged’s founder and CEO. “Customers can now, with ease, print same-day parts that optimize strength and affordability for their specific needs.”