Eating Our Own Dogfood – In-House Markforged Tooling and Fixtures

Eating Our Own Dogfood – Markforged Printed Tooling and Fixtures

Markforged has a building full of superb mechanical engineers with the world’s highest concentration of 3D Printing experience. Consequently, we print solutions to a lot of problems in the Markforged machine shop.

The three problems solved in this blog post are making a skimmer reservoir, creating a base for a wobbly filter and making it easier to build 3d printers.

Common Traits of These Three Parts

  • They solve real problems, quickly
  • Modelled in SolidWorks
  • All withstand the rigors of a busy machine shop
  • Each went from Art to Part within a day

The Abanaki Lil Blue Portable Belt Skimmer Oil Water Separator

3D printed oil water separator

We use an Abanaki skimmer to improve the sump life on the CNC mill. The skimmer lives at the foot of the mill to keep the oil free from coolant and water.

The skimmer doesn’t ship with a reservoir. Instead of ordering an OEM solution and waiting a few weeks for it to arrive, a permanent replacement was designed in SolidWorks and printed on a Mark One.

This part is printed our of nylon, without composite reinforcement, and has been in place for over seven months. It has maintained the ability to hold oil and water for that entire time, even with frequent emptying and replacement.

You can see how dirty it’s become in the above pictures, without losing structural integrity or leaking.

The Oil Water Separator was only an eight hour print. The design time less than ten minutes – faster than Googling a comparable part.

The simplicity of the design is also a huge benefit; there is less tubing, hose clamps and plumbing to organize.

  • Replaced a broken oil skimmer reservoir
  • 10 minute design time
  • 8 hour print

Visi-Mist Oil Mist Eliminator Base

Visi-Mist Original - 3D printing Tooling & Fixtures
The Visi-Mist Before

The Visi-Mist Oil Mist eliminator does an excellent job filtering the vacuum pump exhaust to prevent oil buildup in the shop. The coalescing filter design does a great job collecting the oil mist on the inside of the housing, prolonging the life of the filter.

However, the design doesn’t do such a great job of staying upright. The support fins at the base of the filter just aren’t broad enough to withstand the smallest bump. Knocking the filter over degrades the filter and reduces its efficacy.

The solution was to CAD a wider support base and 3D print it in nylon on a Mark One. Keith measured the filter and modeled the holder fairly quickly. The part printed it in 24 hours. The base came off the printer and the filter dropped right in. The Visi-Mist hasn’t tipped over since!

The 25 hour total design, print and installation time is almost 13 days faster than the shortest lead time on a comparable part from a local machine shop. And we saved about $120 by not ordering a one-off machined part.

The Visi-Mist After
  • Stopped the Visi-Mist filter from being tipped over or kicked
  • 20 minutes to measure and model
  • 24 hour print time
  • Saved $120 by not ordering a machined part

Mark One Nylon Extruder Clamp Adapter

The two solutions above are reactive – there was a problem in the MarkForged shop and we solved it with a 3D printed part. This Extruder Clamp Adapter is a reactive part; the jig was created as part of our printer manufacturing process.

The extruder is shown in the middle of the clamp below. The jig are the two pieces on either side.

3D Printed Extruder Clamp Adapter

The initial nylon load requires holding the extruder open with one hand while feeding nylon with the other. It takes about 31 pounds of force to keep it open for the initial load.  This isn’t too difficult when reloading a printer but is tough for our manufacturing staff. They are loading and testing printers all day long.

The jig is the perfect solution – two caps mounted on a standard Irwin Quick Grip. The clamp can hold the extruder and keep it open indefinitely. The geometry of the jig makes it very easy to clamp and squeeze the extruder open. Nylon loading has become much easier and less strenuous since implementing the clamp.

The jig is reinforced with carbon fiber on both sides to prevent cracking under repeat load. It also helps since the clamps get tossed about and dropped during a normal day. The composite reinforcement will allow many, many cycles while ensuring safety.

  • Designed in SolidWorks with a few revisions to match the extruder
  • Each set prints in 5 hours 24 minutes
  • The oldest jig has withstood thousands of cycles

Download the Visi-Mist Base Model

Markforged Team
October 13, 2015
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