Markforged plays your tune: 3D Mark Two prints parts in Tough Nylon

3D Printing Expert

Posted on September 17 2016

The devil's in the details, especially in 3D Print technology.

It's not the major players that are the most difficult concept to achieve, it's the sum of the parts -- because parts must be perfect, in sync, working as one.

The creation of the fixtures to hold the work pieces is an art to achieve.

For example, pipe bending is a common process for creating anything from a Formula SAE chassis to furniture. The problem in cases like these is "fixturing:" all clamps and vise jaws are rectangular and will compress the pipes if used without a fixture, and they will only provide two points of contact with the pipe, making the bend difficult and messy. Without a large pipe bending setup already, this process can be incredibly tricky: not only is there a danger that the pipes may be scratched by the tooling, but a custom setup may be required to get the right combination of angles. Fabricating your own custom fixtures on a mill is feasible, but not cost effective – additionally, extra steps are necessary to ensure the fixture will be non-marring.


This is one of many situations in which the material properties of Markforged come in handy: parts printed in Tough Nylon, reinforced with any of our fibers, can be used for tough, non-marring fixtures for manufacturing and assembly. Keith Durand, Ph.D. and Senior Mechanical Engineer at Markforged, used this to his advantage when designing and building his own french horn.

markforged created product

The unique material capabilities allowed Keith to make a set of cost-effective, customized, and creative fixtures so that he could easily create his horn. Had he gotten these parts machined out of Nylon, it would have cost $521.71, while printing them in-house was magnitudes cheaper, at $42.12. From fiber-reinforced cheater bars to clamping profiles for bending the brass pipe of the french horn, the material strength of the parts our printers output is sustainable in fabrication and shop environments.

While fixtures, jigs, and soft jaws are often not really considered until after the design process is finished, these fabrication tools are sometimes some of the hardest to make themselves. A tricky soft jaw to hold a complex part for a drilling operation may take hours longer to manufacture via a CNC or manual machine than the operation itself, and will take precious bandwidth away from the CNC machine for just a one-off part.
markforged printer
This is where the Mark Two can really shine: as a complementary addition to a machine shop. Many operations end up being cumbersome, and machinists will either just deal with it or have to machine yet another component to assist them. With the Mark Two, strong, non-marring 3D printed tools can come to the aid of machinists to simplify the fabrication process, thus saving shops money and machine time.  
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