A Boston startup has introduced the first 3D printer capable of printing in carbon fiber, the super-strong and lightweight material used in race cars and space shuttles. After a year of stealth development, the Mark One printer from Mark Forged was unveiled at the SolidWorks 3D-printing expo this week and is expected to retail for just $5,000.
The desktop printer is also capable of printing in fiberglass, nylon, and the thermoplastic PLA, as well as a composite of these materials with layers of carbon fiber added for strength. Mark Forged says it will be useful in building stronger prototypes as well as "prosthetics, custom bones, tools, and fixtures."
Carbon fiber is 20 times stronger than the plastics typically used in 3D printing, Mark Forged says
Another engineering and design shop, Portland, OR-based ProtoPlant, is working on a Kickstarter-funded printer that can print in carbon fiber-reinforced filament. The Mark One appears to be the only printer capable of making objects made entirely of carbon fiber, however.
The 22.6-inch by 14.2-inch by 12.7-inch printer looks more like a home device than an industrial machine, although the price is probably a stretch for most do-it-yourselfers. The company has a wait list for pre-orders and hopes to ship in the second half of the year.
Gregory Mark, the founder of Mark Forged, says the desktop printer is a precursor to a larger industrial machine.