Is the Future of Manufacturing in 3D Print Farms?

Your dependency on vendors for parts and prototyping, with long lead times, will soon be obsolete. Printing strong parts and functional prototypes on a large scale are now within arm’s reach.

Markforged 3D print farms

While the marketplace continues to demand more, faster, businesses need an efficient way to keep up. Implementing a 3D print farm is the most efficient way to go from 3D CAD to functional part or prototype within hours.

A 3D print farm is a group of 3D printers that run simultaneously and as continuously as possible to increase production rates of printed parts. Without automation and reliable machines, 3D print farms can turn into a complete fiasco. But the unique marriage of quality software, hardware and materials make having your own factory not only effective but also straightforward to implement.

Streamlined 3D Software

Organizing and managing large sequences of prints across many different printers can seem intimidating, but don’t fret! Markforged’s Eiger software gives you full control over your prints, from how your part is reinforced with composite fiber material to when jobs are complete or need materials replaced. This allows you to create the strongest, functional part that is also cost effective.

Liveprint monitoring in Eiger gives you the freedom to leave many printers running unattended. You can track your prints and receive notifications when jobs are completed or if any utilities require attention.

Liveprint Monitoring in Markforged Eiger 3D Printing Software Image

Reliable 3D Hardware

On the hardware side, the kinematic coupling that secures the build plate of all Markforged printers allows the plate to be removed and re-installed with up to 10-micron accuracy. This minimizes the need for bed releveling so less time is spent calibrating and more time is spent printing. The hardware is designed for continuous use so all printers are prepared to run for long hours without risk of overheating or mechanical failure.

Unrivaled Material for Competitive Parts

Markforged plastic parts alone have excellent engineered properties such as toughness, stiffness, stability and strength over other plastic printers. These materials are advantageous for 3D print farming because the resolution of these printers and the quality of the filament ensures a production caliber surface finish that requires minimal post processing. All materials and processes are office friendly, so no special facilities or disposal procedures are needed for operation.

Too Good to Be True?

If this idea seems ludicrous to you, see how Markforged is applying this technique to their shop today!

Their print farm is a nearly fully autonomous factory, boasting 75% uptime over a 24-hour day running six days a week. While one person is responsible for removing parts from print beds and setting up the printers for their next job, the next cleans the print beds daily and runs utilities twice a week. This includes maintenance jobs, such as nozzle replacements and calibration, when required.

Because the print farm setup is so easily implementable, it can be replicated even in an office environment. Up to 8 printers can be powered by 120 volts and 20 amps, standardly provided by most building codes in the United States. No mess, no fuss, no sound, no smell. Just high-quality parts made possible through the fully integrated Markforged ecosystem.

The Future for 3D Print Farms

What’s next? Markforged’s Metal X 3D printer coming September of 2017 unlocks a new era of metal parts production. The Metal X is the first step down the print farm path. This printer will solve the hard problems – machine reliability, surface finish, final-part dimensional accuracy and repeatability. It’s designed from the ground up to reliably shape beautiful metal parts.

Humans have been pouring metal into molds for five thousand years. Now we have a better way. In the next two years, Markforged will achieve the technological leap to true digital metal manufacturing. The digital age transformed every other industry known to man – music, photography, writing, telecom, email, the internet. But manufacturing is largely the same as it was in the 50s. It’s time for mechanical engineering to enter the digital age.

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