The Markforged Metal X is a full metal 3D printer that’s capable of printing parts and models from several different metals. It is the first desktop 3D printer of its kind, with a unique printing process and capabilities that not even some industrial metal 3D printers can match.
The Metal X was announced at CES 2017. It joins the Onyx One, Onyx Pro, Mark Two and Mark X 3D printers in the Markforged range. The Metal X is Markforged’s first full metal 3D printer, with the company focusing on composite 3D printers in the past. Markforged were the first company to bring to market a desktop 3D printer capable of printing carbon fibre, fibreglass and Kevlar, for instance, in the Mark One which has since been replaced by the Mark Two.
Below, we will take a closer look at the Metal X and explain how it works in greater detail. Enjoy!
Metal 3D Printing
The Metal X can 3D print 17-4 Stainless Steel and 303 Stainless Steel, 6061 Aluminum (Beta), 7075 Aluminum (Beta), A-2 Tool Steel (Beta), D-2 Tool Steel (Beta), IN Alloy (Inconel) 625 (Beta) and Titanium Ti-6Al-4V (Beta). Listed materials with (beta) next to them are currently in the last stages of testing by Markforged. These materials cover an enormous number of applications for engineers and manufacturers alike.
However, any image you have in your head of metal being melted and extruded like a thermoplastic layer-by-layer can be scrapped, since the Markforged Metal X isn’t a fused filament fabrication (FFF printer).
Instead, the Metal X utilises a print process called Metal FFF. Metal FFF is a new process that Markforged developed specially for the Metal X. Metal FFF prints parts in a metal powder surrounded by a plastic. Parts are then bulk sintered, with the plastic melting away and the powder transforming into solid, dense metal. Markforged says that this process provides crystal growth throughout all axes, to give parts the strength and mechanical properties of solid metal in all directions.
It’s important to point out that the Metal X doesn’t sinter the metal powder itself. For this, you need to use a furnace. Markforged expects most customers to already have a furnace, so the Metal X doesn’t come with one, however any furnace that can get hot enough to melt the metals listed above will do. This makes the Metal X ideal for engineers and metal workers.
Parts printed with the Metal X are between 95 and 99 percent dense depending on the furnace used. This is competitive with the best – and most expensive – direct metal laser sintering machines on the market.
Metal X Specifications
The Metal X has a build volume of 250 mm x 220 mm x 200 mm (9.8 in x 8.7 in x 7.9 in) and a 575 mm x 467 mm x 1432 mm footprint. It comes with an on-board camera for remote monitoring, and it runs on the cloud-based Eiger software platform developed by Markforged. Eiger offers two-factor authentication, and users get early access to new features.
The Metal X can also capture extremely fine detail in prints. The layer resolution of the system is 50-microns (0.05 mm).
Here’s a video taking a closer look at the Metal X:
Now that we have covered the materials and print process used by the Metal X, hopefully you have a better understanding of how it works. You can find out more about the Metal X at the Markforged website. See the Metal X page for further information on ordering etc.