Just last week we found Empire Cycles’ 3D printed titanium mountain bike frame, and we’ve seen plenty of 3D printed parts and prototypes over the years from plastic and metal. Now, carbon fiber is on the menu.

The MarkForged Mark One was created to rapidly produce prototypes that could be tested in high stress, real world conditions. Think race cars, and making prototypes that can be taken to the track.

By printing with continuous carbon strands laid into thermoplastics, the result claims to be 20x stiffer and 5x stronger than nylon parts with a higher strength-to-weight ratio than CNC’d 6061-T6 aluminum. We’re thinking that could mean trail-ready rocker arms and suspension bits that could withstand a few runs to see how linkage changes affect performance in real life.

The machine uses two print heads, so it can also print Fiberglass, Nylon and PLA (thermoplastic). From the looks of it, it needs to embed the carbon into another material (check founder Mark’s speech at SolidWorks World 2014, jump to 35 minutes in, video after break), which would mean it’s not quite ready to pump out production parts, but the prototyping possibilities alone justify the $4,999 price.

Markforged 3d Carbon Fiber printer

Preorders are being taken now, delivery expected late 2014. Get yours at MarkForged.com.

Markforged 3d Carbon Fiber printer

The carbon fiber strands are printed near the outside of the structure to maximize strength and stiffness, using the heat from the printed thermoplastics to cure the part as it’s printed. We’ve reached out for more info on the process and if full carbon parts can be created, updates as we get them.


  1. Viking on

    Good marketing but cons are:
    – the Carbon fibres are not impregnated, leading to a rather low strength
    – the matrix has a far too low temperature resistance in a wet environment (if you think about bike apps)

    to be fair pros are:
    – good stiffness
    – hybrid material (pure polymer with a localized enhanced stiffness)

  2. ve on

    The question is if you can get the strands oriented right and the strength of the resin, especially since there is no weave. When it comes to making complex hollow shapes like frames, I have my doubts.

  3. muf on

    id rather get a better quality frame for this price.. i mean 6 or 7 of them 😉

    while its really cool, the printer’s quality is far from mold’s quality. if anything, the titanium printers are more interesting right now (more precise/better quality, closer to CNC)

  4. caliente on

    As mentioned in the article, this is a game-changer for prototyping and product development. As for 3d printing carbon fiber consumer-ready bike-parts, they’re clearly not there yet; And that isn’t a dig, being able to test a 3d printed part in real world conditions is a huge step in the right direction!

  5. 1Pro on

    so this is really cool but make no mistake about it, this is to add a high strength reinforcement to 3D printed plastics. in its current state, parts from this printer cannot compete on a strength to weight ratio with the current methods of carbon/epoxy FRPs. but still very cool.

    i’ve already head folks on forums taking about using this to print lugs for their carbon lugged frame, thing again. bonding those printable plastics to carbon/epoxy tubes will require mega surface area as those dissimilar materials to not bond well(thermosets to thermoforms)

    so by the time to decide to print your tubes in the same thermoform, you now have a 5lb+ bike frame.

  6. MikeC on

    3D printers are pretty amazing and all, and granted, in their infancy, but I doubt they will become production machines, a valid production process, for major manufacturers who pump out thousands of each model.

    In book publishing, digital printing — Print On Demand, Digital Short Run — has been around for more than a decade now. Where before, to print one book you’d have to gear up an offset printer and prep a title, which made print runs under, say, 1000 books uneconomical, you can now print books in runs under 1000, down to a single book, economically.

    3D printing will be a boon to custom and short run frame and component manufacturers, I don’t see it as a big part of major brand manufacturing any time soon, outside of R&D prototyping and engineering/design departments.

    But who knows. 3D printing still in infancy, could grow into the way things are manufactured at some point in the future. How great would it be if shops had a 3D printer in-house and all they had to do to get that component or frame for you today is download a file, pay a fee, and print it out…?


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