New Markforged FX20: Big and Fast

Bigger is better, they say. While that’s not always true, it’s an accurate statement regarding the Markforged FX20 composite 3D printer. The Markforged FX20 is the latest addition to the Massachusetts, U.S.-based company’s line of composite 3D printers producing high-performance, …

Ile Kauppila

November 18, 2021

Bigger is better, they say. While that’s not always true, it’s an accurate statement regarding the Markforged FX20 composite 3D printer.

The Markforged FX20 is the latest addition to the Massachusetts, U.S.-based company’s line of composite 3D printers producing high-performance, high-resistance parts. This machine, announced in June 2021 and debuted at Formnext 2021, aims to push the limits of industrial additive manufacturing.

Simply put, the FX20 performs better. It’s faster than any other composite 3D printer in the Markforged catalogue. It can also print parts nearly fives times as large as the company’s previous size champion, the Markforged X7.

The Markforged FX20 launch also coincides with the release of a new high-performance thermoplastic material. The manufacturer says this new continuous fibre 3D printer is aimed at the most demanding industrial application, such aerospace and oil and gas.

Let’s take a closer look at the FX20’s features and see how it achieves those goals.

Core Features of Markforged FX20

 Markforged FX20
TechnologyFused Filament Fabrication (FFF), Continuous Fibre Reinforcement (CFR)
Ease of Use7” colour touchscreen; Wi-Fi/Ethernet connectivity
Print VolumeSingle extruder: 525 x 400 x 400 mm Multi-extruder: 500 x 400 x 400 mm
Minimum Layer Height50 microns
MaterialsPlastics: Onyx, Onyx FR, Onyx ESD, ULTEM 9085, Nylon Reinforcement fibres: Carbon Fibre, Carbon Fibre FR, Aramid Fibre (Kevlar), HSHT Fibreglass, Fibreglass
Special FeaturesTriple extruder nozzles, advanced motion control, heated aluminium build bed, automatic calibration and levelling, real-time sensor feedback
SoftwareMarkforged Eiger
PriceAvailable upon request

Markforged FX20 Features in Detail

The FX20 comes packed with many advanced and premium features. They make it a production-ready and easy to use 3D printer that’s able to deliver highly accurate and resilient parts, from small jigs and fixtures to large high-performance composite parts that can even replace metal components.

Technology

Markforged FX20 uses Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) technology. The operator feeds the material into the printer as filament, which the FX20 melts down and deposits onto the print bed in layers to create the part geometry.

FFF is the most common 3D printing technology, thanks to its availability and wide application range. The FX20, however, takes FFF to a new level with a couple of significant technological advancements.

The printer uses Markforged’s proprietary Continuous Fibre Reinforcement (CFR) technology. CFR feeds a reinforcement fibre — like carbon fibre, fibreglass, or Kevlar — into the printed part. This technology makes the parts significantly stronger and more impact and abrasion resistant.

The new FX20 also delivers some serious speed. According to Markforged, it features a Turbo Mode that’s up to eight times faster than the company’s previous composite 3D printers. The high production speed allows operators to easily create industrial-strength parts on demand, making it possible to reduce standing inventory, streamline supply chains, and cut production costs.

Ease of Use

Although it’s aimed at industrial-scale production, Markforged has emphasised user-friendliness in the FX20’s design process.

The printer has a large 7-inch touchscreen for controlling its features. The touchscreen lets users access all of the FX20’s functions, eliminating the need to walk from the printer to a computer and back.

For pushing data and software updates to the printer, the FX20 offers over-the-air Ethernet connectivity. This option eliminates the need to install cords and wires and helps keep the workshop neat and orderly.

Print Volume

When it comes to print volume, Markforged FX20 delivers big results. While a large machine size (and the FX20 certainly is sizeable) doesn’t necessarily translate to large print volume, that’s not the case here.

The FX20 features a huge print chamber, with a print volume of 525 x 400 x 400 mm or 84 litres in single extruder mode. Switching to multi-extruder functionality shaves 25 mm off of the total chamber width, but that doesn’t affect its capability in any meaningful way.

The large chamber, combined with its fast print speed, gives the FX20 an extremely high productivity potential. You’ll be able to print both single massive parts and large numbers of smaller parts quickly and easily.

The FX20 has been precision designed with breakthrough reliability and a simple user experience.

Minimum Layer Height

A 3D printer’s minimum layer height determines how fine the details it can create are. Markforged FX20 isn’t a slouch in this area, with a minimum layer height of 50 microns or 0.05 mm.

This is an extremely accurate detail level for an FFF printer that beats most other similar machines on the market. It may not be as detailed as, for example, SLS printers, but that’s due to the limitations of FFF technology itself instead of the printer.

In fact, the FX20 is close to SLS-level detail. This accuracy is due to the advanced motion controls that effortlessly move the printer’s 3 kg print head assembly, while automatic levelling to keep the print bed steady.

Materials

Markforged FX20 has a wide range of material support — in fact, it works with the company’s entire composite and CFR material library. Although it doesn’t support third-party materials, the extensive range of options still makes it suitable for practically all industrial applications.

Thanks to the CFR technology, the thermoplastics FX20 processes have excellent mechanical properties, including high strength and resistance against abrasion, chemicals, and heat. The exact details depend on the material combination, but the bottom line is that they can be strong enough to replace metal.

With the FX20, Markforged also introduced the ULTEM 9085 material. This high temperature thermoplastic filament is particularly suitable for applications such as high temperature tooling and aircraft components.

The printer won’t run out of material quickly, either. The FX20 features new XL-sized filament spools, which carry four times as much material as previous Markforged printers

Special Features

The three extruder nozzles on Markforged FX20 allow printing in multiple different materials at once. Two nozzles can extrude a composite filament, while the third one is reserved for feeding reinforcement fibres into the part.

The printer features a print chamber that can heat up to 200°C — a requirement for processing the high-grade plastic filaments. The aluminium build bed comes with handy reusable print sheets that make cleaning the bed faster between print jobs.

We’ve already touched on the rest of the listed special features. The advanced motion control system and automatic levelling provide high accuracy, while the multiple real-time sensors provide constant feedback to make operating the printer simpler.

Software for the FX20

Like other printers from the company, the FX20 uses the Markforged Eiger print preparation software. This cloud-based software is easy and secure to use.

Activating CFR, for example, only takes one click and the connected printer automatically begins feeding fibre into the part. Tools for arranging, previewing, and preparing parts are similarly simple.

Eiger functions through any popular web browser and connects to the FX20 through Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Since the software works through the cloud, you’ll never have to risk losing your print data.

Price

As an industrial machine, you’ll have to get in touch with a trusted Markforged reseller, like SolidPrint3D, to obtain a price quote. We’re happy to help you learn more about Markforged FX20 and to provide a quote.

Where to Use Markforged FX20?

Having learned about Markforged FX20’s features, you can probably guess that this industrial-grade printer is at home in the most demanding industries. The manufacturer says the printer meets the needs of aerospace, defence, automotive, and oil and gas industries.

Although it’s a fresh player in the market, companies are already planning on putting FX20 to use. One of them is global sustainable energy solutions firm Vestas Wind Systems, which intends to use Markforged FX20 and the new ULTEM 9085 filament for high-volume parts production.

“With the FX20 and ULTEM 9085, we will be able to design and manufacture larger, stronger parts, press a button and take that part right off the print bed to use it immediately with the confidence that it is very durable and robust,” said Vestas Principal Engineer Jeremy Haight.

Contact our friendly experts at SolidPrint3D to learn more about Markforged FX20 and how you can incorporate it into your manufacturing operation. Call us on 01926 333 777 or email us at info@solidprint3d.co.uk.

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