Markforged, the Massachusetts-based 3D printing original equipment manufacturer (OEM), announced two new product launches at Formnext 2023 (November 7-10 in Frankfurt, Germany). In addition to a new printer, the FX10, Markforged also unveiled Vega, a carbon-fiber filled PEKK material designed for aerospace part production on the company’s FX20 platform.
At a little more than half the height and width and less than a quarter of the weight of the FX20, the FX10 was designed for versatility and automation. The FX10 includes two printhead mounted optical sensors, including a new vision module for quality control. And, although it’s made for the FX20, the Vega material fits with the same theme of versatility, designed to enable aerospace customers to be able to substitute aluminum parts with parts made from composites.
In a press release about the launch of the FX10, Markforged’s CEO, Shai Terem, said, “The FX10 is another important milestone in our mission to bring industrial production to the point of need. It enables our customers to address even more industrial applications with clear return on investment. Coupled with our Digital Source platform, we are truly starting to bring the vision of distributed manufacturing into reality. The FX10 features a full suite of automation built to simplify the usage of the printer and increase adoption to build resiliency into our customers’ production. When a line is down, or a tool is needed, FX10 users can simply Press Print.”
In a press release about the launch of Vega filament, Terem said, “Vega is formulated to expand aerospace applications for our customers. Vega incorporates PEKK, a proven material in aerospace that possesses excellent strength and stiffness. We believe this material will set the standard in print quality for high temperature thermoplastics and expand the adoption of our FX20 printer.”
It would seem noteworthy that these are the first two product launches following Markforged’s unveiling of the Digital Source on-demand manufacturing portal (which Terem referred to as “iTunes for manufacturing”). Insofar as the Digital Source is predicated on enabling manufacturing versatility, the FX10 and Vega are ideal products to reinforce the main selling point of a platform that facilitates on-demand production of OEM-licensed parts.
Moreover, both products carry out another major Markforged advantage, which is internal synergy across the Markforged product portfolio. Because the Markforged platform is defined by such a unique diversity of printers and materials, comprising the full range of production-level additive manufacturing (AM) techniques, customers have a rather easy time leveling up their AM capabilities from prototyping to end-use parts without ever having to turn to another brand.
Markforged’s business development manager, Ross Adams, explained that advantage to me at RAPID + TCT 2023:
“[It’s] an evolution,” said Adams. “It usually starts with prototyping — ‘Ok, these parts are actually pretty good, let’s make some tools because that fits in the sweet spot.’ And usually what sparks next is a spare part, [for a specific] circumstance: ‘We need a part, and we have the tool to make it.’ And then once you print a part, that’s your in with a customer, right? You’re putting it into an environment, and it’s like, wait a minute! We can do this! It worked, and it’s actually not a big deal. And that’s what sparks the conversations usually internally of, okay, well where could this fit elsewhere?”
Thus, while Markforged has a well-established history with an extensive portfolio, it’s not difficult to imagine that, going forward, the brand’s business model will consolidate around its three latest product launches, the Digital Source, the FX10, and Vega filament. These are products that have the highest potential to put Markforged in the hands of as many high-value users as possible, which in turn opens up the possibilities for the company’s multitude of other offerings.
Images courtesy of Markforged