Phil and his team had heard about Markforged and realized that they could print several of their custom aluminum parts on a Markforged 3D printer. He put the business case together, showing the potential savings, and purchased a Markforged Mark Two — a desktop 3D printer capable of printing in continuous fiber. The team started printing parts for the machine, and found they could do so at a reduced cost. There are now 53 unique printed parts on the pad handling machine, including fuse covers, end effector laser sensor mounts, mechanism covers, bump stops, motor mounts, and more. Additionally, the team has replaced machine parts that broke during testing, or needed tweaking, with Markforged printed parts that they can print overnight, put back on the machine, and test the next morning. These replacement parts are integral to keeping machine development on time.
The company has utilized its Mark Two’s ability to embed continuous fibers to ensure extra strength in certain parts. Phil estimates that around fifty percent of the printed parts have been reinforced with Kevlar®, HSHT fiberglass, or carbon fiber. “For shock-loaded parts, we chose Kevlar or HSHT fiberglass, and for parts we wanted to be more rigid, we chose carbon fiber,” says Phil. The design team saved $27,000 CAD by replacing aluminum and sheet metal parts with 3D printed parts on the pad handling machine alone.