Looking Back on 2021 with Markforged
2021 was a momentous year for Markforged. With the end of the year around the corner, here are some highlights from Markforged’s 2021:
Building the Company and Community
We are all still navigating through the pandemic and its very real impact on how we work and live. However, the very challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented us also motivate our team to work hard so that manufacturers around the world can become more resilient. With all this in mind, Markforged hit some critical milestones as a company this year.
2021 was a year of growth for us at Markforged. In July, we took on the NYSE, going public in a $2.1 billion SPAC deal, under the MKFG listing. We also nearly doubled the size of our team this past year, bringing in many of the brightest minds to grow our technology and expand the reach of its impact.
As the Digital Forge increases in capabilities, we needed to accommodate our growing team and find the laboratory space to continue our accelerated product roadmap development. To make this happen, we announced our new global corporate headquarters, scheduled to open in fall 2022, which will bring our corporate, commercial and engineering teams together under one roof.
At the start of this year, we participated in Project DIAMOnD, distributing hundreds of 3D printers to enable small and mid-sized manufacturers across Michigan to print PPE, filling a critical gap in the medical supply chain and creating manufacturing resiliency. The project, poised to become the world’s largest emergency response network for printing physical objects on demand, serves as an example of how distributed manufacturing can strategically overcome logistical hurdles. Each individual printer connects to a centralized, blockchain-enabled cloud operated by Automation Alley, so that manufacturers can print the parts they need to keep their lines operational and versatile in the face of future disruption.
To the Field, Factories of the Future, and Aflight
Our mission to reinvent manufacturing today so you can build anything you imagine tomorrow is something our team is truly passionate about. We take pleasure in our hard work building our platform to enable you to make it happen.
This year, we expanded the capabilities of the Digital Forge. New additions to our 3D printers, software, and materials expanded what’s possible with additive manufacturing — bringing its benefits to new production-ready environments, remote locations in the field, and aflight with new aerospace-grade materials.
The FX20 is the most recent addition to the Digital Forge, pairing improved size, speed and throughput with new material capabilities to serve aerospace and production-ready environments. As the biggest, fastest, and most precise 3D printer Markforged has ever produced, the FX20 pairs size and throughput to make larger parts at incredible speeds.
Able to print with the aerospace-grade material ULTEM™ 9085 filament as well other Markforged composite materials, the FX20 combines high-performance thermoplastics with our proprietary carbon fiber reinforcement (CFR) technology to forge flight-ready end use parts that are strong, lightweight, fast and easy to print, and thrive in extreme operating environments.
Along with opening up new applications, the FX20 will help manufacturers move from augmenting manufacturing operations with composite 3D printing to replacing entire segments of the supply chain by bringing its strong, accurate end-use parts that solve demanding problems right where needed.
The X7 Field Edition is our rugged, field-deployable industrial 3D printer, which makes it easier to set up and print anywhere and print anytime, with everything you need to bring it into the field and stay there. We designed our X7 Field Edition for durability, reliability, and ease of deployment — to help our customers address supply challenges in remote locations. In April, the X7 FE made an appearance at a demo day for the Marines’ XFAB lab, a transportable additive manufacturing lab that can deploy with battalion-level maintenance units. X7 FE started shipping in September.
Announced in June, the Metal X Gen 2 introduced key hardware developments to improve user experience, increase operator safety, and increase ease of use. New features include an external seven-inch touchscreen, door position sensors, and additional chamber insulation. Angus 3D Solutions, a Scottish print services provider, uses the increased production speed of Next Day Metal to drastically cut down prototyping and delivery times for their customers.
In July, we introduced new aerospace-ready FR-A materials compatible with our other industrial composite 3D printers. For aerospace manufacturers, end-use parts can be manufactured with high-strength, lightweight composites that meet Flame, Smoke, and Toxicity (FST) requirements. This leads to lower fixed costs, shorter lead times, and reduced investment in labor compared to traditional processing.
New FR-A materials establish lot-level material traceability and pass the test suite necessary for qualification under 14 CFR 25.853 for most 3D-printable parts. Onyx FR-A and Carbon Fiber FR-A, as printed on the Markforged X7, are currently undergoing qualification through the NCAMP process. These materials will give our aerospace customers and others in highly regulated industries confidence in the materials while reducing risk and saving time. Once Onyx FR-A and Carbon Fiber FR-A complete the NCAMP qualification process, manufacturers will be able to access Markforged’s material information from the NCAMP database, prove equivalency, and have the ability to gain FAA certification efficiently.
Software Brings it All Together
Alongside our printers and materials, our software is the third element of the Digital Forge. This year, we released Eiger Fleet for accelerated scaling of additive manufacturing operations, introduced automated part quality inspection with Blacksmith™, and added new capabilities to our Eiger™ 3D printing software. Our recent additions tap into autonomous manufacturing, fleet management, and AM workflow integration into industry 4.0 technology systems through the Eiger API.
In September, we released Eiger Fleet, our cloud-based enterprise software for global fleet management to scale additive manufacturing operations. Eiger Fleet increases operational efficiency and visibility, by giving individuals and teams access to only the right devices and parts. It also enables fully end-to-end 3D printing production cycles connected to Industry 4.0 initiatives and technology systems, through API integrations.
In March, we released Blacksmith, our cloud-based autopilot for digital manufacturing processes — connecting part design, production, and inspection with powerful AI. Blacksmith enables printing the right part the first time and every subsequent time, eliminating the need for sending parts out for expensive, time consuming post-print inspection. Hangar One Avionics, a San Diego-based avionics, maintenance, repair and installation services provider, uses Blacksmith to digitize and automate part inspection with higher accuracy and reliability.
Announced in June, Next Day Metal takes metal printing from design to metal part in hand in as little as 28 hours (~2x faster than previously) through an over-the-air software update to all Metal X printers. With this capability, manufacturers can print metal parts faster, with more agility, and with a higher throughput. This software update is made possible byanother process improvements rolled out over the last three years.
Key additions to Eiger we’ve made over the last year include:
- Quick identification of supports in unreachable regions through a new internal view.
- Weight, strength and density optimization with Gyroid Infill
- Store and manage parts in an unlimited digital inventory using both folders and subfolders in Eiger.
- Read here for more new software capabilities we added to the Digital Forge in 2021 to solve customer problems.
What Our Customers are Doing
2021 was a big year for our customers as well — printing everything from aircraft interior components to end-use parts on autonomous robots. Customers across industries utilized the Digital Forge to print critical parts at the point of need around the world. We are thrilled to be supporting all of our customers and their diverse portfolio of additive manufacturing projects.
- Team CoSTAR, a collaboration between the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and four top-ranked technology universities, used the Digital Forge to print durable brackets, mounts, and a sensor cage for the autonomous robotic system they built for the DARPA subterranean challenge.
- Cabin Management Solutions, from Conroe, Texas, works with aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) companies and private owners to design and develop cabin control and entertainment systems for luxury private and business jets. CMS uses Markforged industrial X7 printers with Onyx FR to print and deliver custom interior parts such as in-flight entertainment retrofits, that are high-strength, low-weight, and flame-retardant.
- Hangar One Avionics, a San Diego-based avionics, maintenance, repair and installation services provider, used their Markforged X7 to print a customized cockpit console and cupholders. Hangar One also uses Blacksmith software to digitize and automate part inspection, and displace the need to undergo lengthy part inspection processes or send parts out to a third party for inspection.
Thank you to all of our stakeholders for a great year. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to help you, put simply, build things that matter. We plan to keep it up going into 2022 — expect us to continue finding new ways to improve our 3D printing platform as we tackle work on our accelerated product development roadmap. We’ll see you in the new year — keep an eye out here on the Markforged blog to see what’s next.
“Our customers continue to recognize the value of our end-to-end platform and its ability to address mission critical problems at the point of need, overcome the global shortage of parts, and ensure their production line resiliency. We see great opportunities to continue helping our customers reinvent manufacturing today so they can build anything they imagine tomorrow.” — Shai Terem, President & CEO
*The ULTEM™ and 9085 trademarks are used under license from SABIC, its affiliates or subsidiaries.
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