Designed to help manufacturers adopt and scale 3D printing within their existing workflows, the cloud software allows users to supervise and automate Markforged machines from afar. In doing so, the program enables adopters to control quality and ramp-up part throughput, in a way that the firm says will “transform AM from a small-scale operation into a globally-connected, distributed manufacturing fleet.”
“Eiger Fleet fuels the expansion of additive manufacturing by giving our customers the right set of control and management tools that address the concerns of security, quality management, auditing or user error,” said David Benhaim, CTO of Markforged. “Eiger Fleet is setting the pace for what’s possible in the future of manufacturing, through cloud-enabled distributed manufacturing.”
“Additive [manufacturing] technology is transforming manufacturing around the world.”
Markforged’s Eiger platform
Launched in 2014, alongside its original Mark One 3D printer, Eiger is Markforged’s proprietary print management software. Over the last seven years, the program has been steadily upgraded to provide Markforged adopters with the best user experience possible, and enable them to get from CAD model to end-use part as quickly as they can.
To help them accomplish this, Eiger’s is built to facilitate the design of builds, printing of parts, and tracking of their progress in a seamless production workflow. The program also allows these parts to be stored online digitally, meaning that they can be downloaded and 3D printed anywhere in the world, while its real-time monitoring functionality enables businesses to keep tabs on projects from afar.
In recent years, Markforged has sought to improve Eiger’s industrial-scale capabilities, and launched its Digital Forge platform in November 2020, with this goal in mind. Designed to connect the firm’s fleet of more than 12,000 systems, the cloud software collects data and uses ML algorithms to ‘learn’ from prints, in order to make each more accurate than the last.
Similarly following the launch of the Digital Forge, Markforged has also released Blacksmith for its X7 machine, which uses AI software to turn local scan data into corrective actions for later jobs. Now, with its Eiger Fleet offering, the firm is seeking to help clients not only improve their print accuracy, but scale their workflow to new levels, and unlock 3D printing’s distributed manufacturing potential.
Turning a print farm into a fleet
Markforged’s latest addition to its Eiger software range is built from the ground up to accelerate the adoption of 3D printing at scale, via a set of what it refers to as ‘enterprise-grade’ features. By allowing clients to remotely and securely control everything from part builds to team responsibilities, the program effectively enables them to drive efficiency, and produce parts only as and when they’re needed.
Thanks to Eiger Fleet’s APIs, users are also able to connect their Markforged 3D printers to other enterprise systems, yielding an interconnected, simplified production workflow. Once hooked-up, the software effectively allows adopters to seamlessly manage their digital part inventory, and leverage batch operations or presets to improve overall throughput.
Compared to Markforged’s Eiger Core offering, the Fleet edition includes custom analytics features too, which enable customers to track, analyze and share KPIs across their business, as well as role-based access control or ‘RBAC’ functionality, providing them with the ability to remotely manage the tasks and job privileges of their workforce.
One of the company’s beta users, Vestas Wind Systems, has already found Eiger Fleet to be a useful tool in organizing the 3D printing of parts and tools needed for maintaining its wind turbines. By adopting the software, the firm has managed to reduce the cost and lead times of its blade marking tools from thousands of dollars and three weeks, to just three days and less than $100 from design to installation.
“Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) has evolved at Vestas to connect our factories around the world,” said Vestas’ Jeremy Haight. “We depend on the Markforged platform, Eiger Fleet and Blacksmith to provide the centralized control, enterprise resource planning (ERP), asset management, and other system integration and print analysis for industrial-grade AM that our global business needs.”
Eiger Fleet is now available as a paid subscription service for all models of Markforged’s 3D printers. For more information, those at RAPID+TCT can drop by the company’s booth (E7207) to see its Eiger Fleet and Digital Forge products in-action.
Markforged’s post-IPO progression
Since announcing its intention to go public via a merger with SPAC one, Markforged has ramped up its efforts to expand on its portfolio, and seek out new applications for its technologies. In June 2021, the firm launched its new Metal X Gen 2 and X7 Field Edition (FE) 3D printers, as well as a print speed-doubling over-the-air software update.
The company has also unveiled plans to establish a food-contact 3D printing model in Australia, alongside the Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) and office printing firm Konica Minolta. Through the project, Markforged ultimately aims to identify an optimized workflow for rapidly producing spare meat processing parts on-demand.
In terms of future releases, Markforged has earmarked Formnext 2021 for the launch of what it describes as the “biggest, fastest, and most sophisticated” 3D printer to date. Known as the ‘FX20,’ the machine is being marketed as the system that will transform the Digital Forge into a next-generation continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic printing platform.
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Featured image shows a print farm of Markforged 3D printers. Photo via Markforged.