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Looking Back on 2020

Well, it’s safe to say 2020 didn’t turn out the way we had expected. With bushfires in parts of the world, a global pandemic, and an unprecedented economic shock, this was not the year we were planning for.

But this year brought out the best in so many people — from those who pivoted their 3D printer usage to support PPE efforts to those who found new ways to give back and help others. 2020 is the year we saw the importance of responsiveness and agility in the face of a dynamic world.

Here are just a few highlights from this very strange year.

Joining In The Fight Against COVID-19

In early January, the World Health Organization declared that there was a novel coronavirus starting to make its way around Asia. In late January, it reached Europe, and by mid-March, stay-at-home orders were occurring in the US. There was a huge need for personal protective equipment (PPE), and so Markforged got to work. The team created a design for a 3D printed face guard that could be used by frontline workers to protect against COVID-19. We distributed these to local healthcare institutions and made the design available to all of our customers around the world.

It’s one thing for a company of our size to take on such a huge task. It’s another when small businesses around the world put their work on hold to join in on the fight. What we saw was an influx of Markforged customers printing 3D printed PPE around the world. From small businesses to some of the world’s largest companies, everyone was and has been doing their part to help those in need. We are honestly so blown away by the sheer number of people who joined in on these efforts, and thank each of you who did so.

Markforged also made sure that things were running smoothly for our customers during such an uncertain year. Our incredible manufacturing team was hard at work ensuring that spools of material were readily available, all while keeping as safe as possible. We are so grateful to our manufacturing team, as we could not have kept our customers happy without their help! You can watch our manufacturing facility tour if you want to see where the magic happens.

Launches Upon Launches

2020 didn’t stop us from releasing new materials and features — this year saw the release of two new materials, online training, and continuous improvement to our software and hardware!

Markforged Copper was launched in early 2020, and is greater than 99.8% pure copper with excellent thermal and electrical conductivity and high ductility. Markforged Copper can be used where thermal or electrical conductivity is required — and traditional manufacturing processes are too expensive or fall short. Alternatively, customers who work with aluminum over copper because of its processing challenges can now take advantage of easily 3D printing a copper part, and benefit from the material’s higher thermal and electrical conductivity.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, we decided to accelerate the release of our virtual comprehensive additive training program — Markforged University Online. Now that Markforged University is online, teams of any size across the globe can easily gain access to the same in-depth training experience developed by seasoned Markforged engineers. And the best part? Markforged customers can complete the multi-day training at their own pace, with plenty of time to begin applying what you’ve learned to your own work along the way. The course includes video instruction, interactive training, theoretical understanding and applied examples and demos from other successful Markforged customers.

A major focus this year at Markforged has been on improving the overall user experience. Metal and Composite systems received slicer and firmware updates which improve printing. Leak Resistant (Alpha) is now out for 17-4 PH and H13, and we also have released an Exposed Infill (Alpha) for metal which dramatically reduces wash time and improves sintering success rates for parts with thick cross sections.

In the latter part of 2020, Industrial and Metal X printers gained the ability to attempt dislocation recovery. While dislocations rarely happen, recoverable dislocations tend to happen when the belts are loose or other consumables need servicing. To help keep your printers running like new, we also unveiled the oft-requested Maintenance Schedule Utility which tracks consumable lifetimes and notifies you when components are due for maintenance or replacement. This tool builds on years of customer and internal print data to offer a preventive maintenance schedule based on material usage. Markforged desktop 3D printers are also enabled to print Onyx in the purge line area, which was previously roped off. This adds 20mm (15%!) more usable space in the back of Onyx Ones, Onyx Pros, and Mark Twos.

And finally, we released Onyx ESD —a static-dissipative version of Onyx. The addition of a precisely controlled quantity of conductive filler results in Onyx ESD meeting a tight surface resistance range that enables it to be used for a broad set of ESD sensitive applications. Onyx ESD can serve the full range of applications as a standalone material or — when maximum strength or stiffness is desired — reinforced with continuous fiber.

We are beyond excited to see what our customers do in 2021 with these new materials and services!

Incredible Applications

As usual, our customers were all doing incredible things this year. We love to share customer success stories from amazing customer around the world. In 2020, we shared several stories, including one from Guhring UK — who created and put into production an H13 Tool Steel milling cutter with a uniquely-designed infill for increased efficiency.

This year we shared stories from Siemens Energy about how they 3D printed a tool to repair turbine components in the field; Cashco Inc., who saw a decrease in labor time required for custom manufacturing tools by utilizing their Markforged X7 carbon fiber 3D printer to fabricate 3D printed tools; and RPG Industries, who used their Metal X 3D printer to replace a vintage carburetor cap on an antique car!

We published a story with Caldwell Manufacturing, who well and truly integrated 3D printing into everything, from R&D, robotic parts for testing, assembly fixtures, tooling, all the way to post-processed parts for customers. Garry Rogers Motorsport — Australia’s oldest motorsport team — shared how they produce 3D printed end-use parts include covers for door locks, gearbox housings, steering wheel handles, and camera mounts for the drivers, all by using their Markforged composite 3D printer.

On the application spotlight side, we had everything from Copper induction coils from Czech customer Meduna and a Copper tool cooler from German customer PTZ to Onyx ESD testing fixtures from Swedish customer Columbia Elektronik and an H13 milling cutter from Guhring UK.

We also enjoyed our Supply Chain webinar series, where we had the likes of Dana Inc., Siemens Energy, Vestas, Würth, and Caldwell Manufacturing come to do a panel discussion on the effectiveness of additive manufacturing when it comes to solving supply chain problems.

As if that wasn’t already enough, we also released 100 real customer applications from around the world, alongside “The Additive Movement has Arrived” report! We were amazed at the sheer number of incredible stories and applications our customers had to share, which can all be viewed here.

Onwards and Upwards

Last year, we saw a lot of growth. This year, we kept the momentum going. We announced that we were the first – and only – Additive Manufacturing Platform to earn ISO/IEC 27001 Certification. "We believe that every product and engineering decision we make has a security component to it, and our customers and their data are at the center," said David Benhaim, CTO, Markforged. "We are setting the standard for additive manufacturing, and our strategic investment in maintaining a robust security program and completion of this internationally recognized certification process demonstrates our steadfast commitment to security and the protection of our customers' data."

We then announced a strategic investment agreement with In-Q-Tel, Inc. (IQT), the not-for-profit strategic investor that identifies and accelerates the development and delivery of cutting-edge technologies to support the mission of the U.S. government agencies that keep our nation safe. "Markforged stands out as a leading innovator in additive manufacturing," said Clayton Williams, Technical Staff, Field Technologies at IQT. "We're excited to begin this partnership with them to further our mission to support our government partners."

This was also a big year for us in terms of customer learnings! We spent a lot of this year talking to customers to find out trends they were seeing, which resulted in the publication of two reports. We published a trends report called "The Additive Movement has Arrived", where we analyzed 100+ applications from around the globe across six major industries to understand how 3D printing is being used in the world today. Check out the report here. We then published the “COVID-19 Impact on Supply Chains: Global Additive Manufacturing Industry Report” in early December, and the results of the study are based on responses from more than 600 manufacturing and technology organizations across several countries and continents. While the primary respondents of the study were from our customer base, the report also surveyed a sampling of non-Markforged customers to provide deeper analysis.

And finally, we announced the promotion of Shai Terem to president & chief executive officer, while our founder Gregory Mark has transitioned to the role of chairman. This was the result of a planned succession, and will put the company in a position to grow even further in the future.

What’s next?

We’re not going to lie: 2020 was pretty awful in so many ways. But through it all, we have seen humans — both inside Markforged and outside — come together to help one another while we as a company have gone from strength to strength. We can only hope that 2021 brings with it new ways in which we can work together with our customers and are excited to bring new best-in-class products to the market.

Buckle up for 2021!

P.S. If you want to remember more "normal" years, check out our Looking Back on 2019 post and Looking Back on 2018 post!

All of the blogs and the information contained within those blogs are copyright by Markforged, Inc. and may not be copied, modified, or adopted in any way without our written permission. Our blogs may contain our service marks or trademarks, as well as of those our affiliates. Your use of our blogs does not constitute any right or license for you to use our service marks or trademarks without our prior permission. Markforged Information provided in our blogs should not be considered professional advice. We are under no obligation to update or revise blogs based on new information, subsequent events, or otherwise.

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