3D Printers

Markforged launches Metal X Gen 2 and X7 Field Edition 3D printers, and new software update

3D printer manufacturer Markforged has announced three new additions to its cloud-based Digital Forge platform, including two new 3D printers and a software update.

The new Metal X Gen 2 and X7 Field Edition (FE) 3D printers are intended as successors to the original Metal X and X7 systems, respectively. On the other hand, ‘Next Day Metal’ is an over-the-air software update designed to enable print speeds up to twice as fast as what was previously possible.

Together, the announcements are intended to help manufacturers address their global supply chain challenges, both on the shop floor and in remote environments like combat and disaster zones.

Shai Terem, President and CEO of Markforged, states, “Markforged is committed to quality and continuous improvement, always looking for simpler, smarter, and more robust ways to empower our customers to build anything they can imagine. The addition of the Metal X (Gen 2), Next Day Metal, and the X7 FE to our Digital Forge are important steps towards reinventing manufacturing today so that we are all more resilient tomorrow anywhere in the world.”

The Metal X Gen 2. Photo via Markforged.
The Metal X Gen 2. Photo via Markforged.

Metal X Gen 2 and X7 FE

The original Metal X system made its debut at CES 2017, offering relatively low-cost metal 3D printing for desktop settings. The flagship machine works by extruding metal powder bound in a polymer matrix, which can then be sintered to grant users fully-dense metal components.

Building on the success of its predecessor, the Metal X Gen 2 comes complete with a whole host of key hardware developments that improve both user experience and operator safety. This includes a new external 7” touchscreen and door position sensors. Markforged has also equipped its latest 3D printer with additional chamber insulation, making the Gen 2 even more energy efficient.

Meanwhile, the X7 FE is a ruggedized, field-deployable version of the company’s X7 composite 3D printer. Built to operate in the harshest of remote locations, the system is capable of 3D printing within two minutes of being unpacked, streamlining spare part production and emergency repairs in all four corners of the globe.

Of course, a tactical response will require tactical upgrades. This is why Markforged has equipped the X7 FE with a rotomolded high-impact polyethylene Pelican case. The new skin is tough enough to protect the system from the inevitable shocks and bumps experienced during transport across rough terrain. Inside the new case, customers will also find all of the tools, spare parts, and materials required to maintain and repair the printer.

The Metal X Gen 2 is available today, while the X7 FE is available for pre-order and slated to ship beginning late 2021.

The X7 FE 3D printer. Photo via Markforged.
The X7 FE 3D printer. Photo via Markforged.

Next Day Metal software update

The Next Day Metal software update has already launched across Markforged’s entire fleet of metal 3D printers, including the new Metal X Gen 2. It enables faster build times by providing more accurate wash and dry times for smaller parts, ultimately shortening the de-bind cycle time of a print.

Some of Markforged’s customers, like 3D printing service provider Angus 3D Solutions, are already reaping the benefits of faster production speeds. By opting for the Metal X system, Angus recently produced a set of specialty tight-clearance wrench prototypes for its client, slashing the usual three week lead time to just three days. According to Markforged, Next Day Metal will be able to shorten this even further to just 24 hours.

Andy Simpson, Managing Director of Angus 3D Solutions, concludes, “Our customers rely on us to produce specialty parts that can be time-consuming to make and expensive to ship quickly. Our Markforged Metal X printer enables us to fulfil orders in a fast and timely fashion. Next Day Metal unlocks a new level of potential for us to scale our metal printing business and satisfy customer needs on even quicker turnarounds.”

Andy Simpson, Managing Director at Angus 3D Solutions, with a Metal X 3D printed part. Photo via Markforged.
Andy Simpson, Managing Director at Angus 3D Solutions, with a Metal X 3D printed part. Photo via Markforged.

Markforged’s 3D printing technology is ever-expanding, with new metals and composites being qualified every year. Most recently, the firm launched Onyx ESD, a high-strength composite filament characterized by its electrostatic discharge (ESD)-safe nature. Primarily intended for electronics applications, the material comprises carbon fiber-reinforcements in a nylon matrix.

Previously, the company has also released a pure copper material option for use with the Metal X. Known for its excellent thermal and electrical conductivities, the metal sees widespread use in electronics and heat exchangers in industries such as oil and gas, automotive, and consumer products.

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Featured image shows the X7 FE 3D printer. Photo via Markforged.