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How to 3D Print High-Strength Workholdings

Tough, stiff and precise 3D printed parts made of composite materials can handle the beating workholdings and fixturings get during machining applications.

Markforged’s cloud-based 3D print software provides granular control of where to lay reinforcing fibers in a continuous stream in a part under development. Shown here are two fill options. Isotropic fill on the left lays down a sheet of fiber in the part. Internal hole concentric fill on the right encircles internal part cavities. Image courtesy of Markforged Inc.

Sponsored ContentDear DE Reader:

If I had my druthers, I'd rename the on-demand webinar at the far end of today's Check it Out link “How We Do It and You Can Too.” Fortunately for them, Markforged doesn't have me titling these things. But this quick presentation is so clear and thorough that it works. Let me explain.

“Designing High-Strength Workholding with Composite 3D Printing” walks you through designing, fabricating with a Markforged 3D print manufacturing system, then deploying a workholding that secures a part being machined. The part, a rear motorcycle motor mount, is a complex thingie—pockets, holes and a tricky extrusion on its underside. It requires a two-step machining process.

Markforged's cloud-based 3D print software provides granular control of where to lay reinforcing fibers in a continuous stream in a part under development. Shown here are two fill options. Isotropic fill on the left lays down a sheet of fiber in the part. Internal hole concentric fill on the right encircles internal part cavities. Image courtesy of Markforged Inc. Markforged's cloud-based 3D print software provides granular control of where to lay reinforcing fibers in a continuous stream in a part under development. Shown here are two fill options. Isotropic fill on the left lays down a sheet of fiber in the part. Internal hole concentric fill on the right encircles internal part cavities. Image courtesy of Markforged Inc.

Traditional machining would take tons of time and money to make it. Common 3D materials like polylactic acid wouldn't survive the machining process. The webinar is intended to demonstrate that Markforged's reinforced materials can handle the loading conditions and its 3D print process can produce workholding and fixtures with the precision, toughness, stiffness and chemical- and wear-resistance to do it quickly and cost-effectively.

It's a convincing demonstration. You see the workholding prepped for 3D printing then you see a nifty, close-up video of it put to use securing the part. Along the way you're introduced to Markforged's CFF (continuous filament fabrication) process and the company's cloud-based 3D printing software.

CFF? The short of it is that this 3D print process combines two materials, say, nylon with continuous strands of chopped carbon fiber, resulting in composite parts that are stiffer and stronger than typical 3D printed parts. While lots of materials out there mix in stiffening fibers, it's those continuous strands in the CFF process that Markforged says are a key differentiator for making parts suitable for jobs like workholdings. Think of it as creating layer-by-layer a composite sandwich that's something like a construction I-beam.

Another differentiator is Eiger, the 3D print software. Among its features is layer-by-layer control of the 3D part fabrication. This gives you granular management over where the fiber goes in your part, enabling you to optimize it for your application. The webinar explains and shows some of your control options here. It's cool stuff.

There's no wasted time in “Designing High-Strength Workholding with Composite 3D Printing”—even the obligatory “who we are” business is briskly taken care of. This is the best 16 minutes you'll spend today. Hit the link and see for yourself.

Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood

Editor at Large, DE


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Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Digital Engineering’s Editor-at-Large. Contact him via [email protected].

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