is computationally intense,"
says Mark. While carbon fiber
can be added more easily
(and cheaply) to materials by
cutting it into a powder,
doing so makes it five
keeping the fiber in a
single continuous strand
is the printer’s software,
Eiger, the “unsung hero” of
the design, which automatically routes the fiber within
a part. The fiber density and
directionality can be edited
on a layer-by-layer basis, so
that the part’s strength and
flexibility can vary by region.
Pause points can also be
selected, which allows users
to embed various electronic
components, and because
the software can run on
any device, “You can be in
Shanghai China and still print
in Boston," says Mark.
The software also features
a support button so users
can share files with the com-pany's support team, giving
them access to the part with
the same settings, positioning, and support structure
as it would appear for the
user. "Because we have this
web-based software, support
is trivial," says Mark. "You
don't have to call anybody or
talk to anybody. You just hit
that button." After the team
works through the problem,
all of the shared data is
The print head was the most difficult aspect of the hardware design.
Specifically, overcoming the issue
of printing in carbon fiber with-
out clogging the nozzle. "It’s
really breaking the system
down to a small manageable
set of tasks or steps that you can
execute one by one. It should be
the same for every engineering
process," Mark elaborates.
One of these first steps was figuring out how to get a strand of carbon fiber to stick to another. "That
in itself was not easy," he admits.
But with every new step in the
project, comes a different design
challenge – the next? Designing a
larger industrial machine.
“This technology naturally
wants to scale up,” says Mark,
adding that there are no limitations to what could be printed
when strength is part of the
equation. One day, we may even
see a large carbon fiber printer
building custom cars.
Mark explains that the company could have started with a
bigger, more expensive machine
design, but the print head as it
exists now is still too nascent.
A bigger machine costs more
money, so users expect a higher
level of reliability, and Mark is
taking the time to perfect the
technology. "When the bigger
machine comes out, it will have
a more advanced print head,"
he says. "It’s not that we have
a long way to go, it’s that every
little bit counts." PDD
Filament Sizes: FFF: 1.75 mm, CFF: MF4
Chassis: Anodized Aluminum Unibody
Build Platform: Kinematically Coupled
Software: Cloud Enabled
Supported OS: Mac OS 10. 7 Lion +, Windows 7+, Linux
Browser: Chrome 30+
Supported Files: .STL
Connectivity: WiFi, Ethernet, USB, USB flash