Markforged: Printer Setup and First Major Print – Part 1

Markforged: Printer Setup and First Major Print – Part 1

Earlier this year, Hawk Ridge Systems announced a partnership with Markforged, which is a 3D printing company that manufactures hardware capable of printing end use parts. In this first part of our content series, we will be covering the setup and configuration of our Mark Two, which is a printer that has the ability to inlay parts with continuous fiber filament. After the printer is set up, we will also be showing how a file can be prepared for printing in Eiger, which is the cloud based slicing software developed by Markforged.

In the second part of this series, we will walk through the design of a Markforged tool caddy, which was a project aimed at organizing many of the accessories that came with our printer. This project was our first major print, and after some of our design considerations are outlined, we will show the finished product!

Initial Setup

Firstly, if you would like to see a brief unboxing of the Mark Two, which overviews most of the items that were included with the printer, you can do so here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cueX0Nr10EE

To get started with the Mark Two, we will first be un-packaging and loading our plastic. Although the Mark Two can print with nylon, we have chosen to print with Onyx, which is a nylon that contains chopped carbon fiber. If you would like to learn more about Onyx, feel free to navigate here: https://markforged.com/onyx/

As is the case with nylon, Onyx is susceptible to moisture, so it will need to be loaded into the custom Pelican dry-box that Markforged provides. Once the material is loaded into our printer, we can utilize an on screen utility to walk through the process of loading the fiber. The following series of pictures will walk through the steps that were taken.

 

The Mark Two alongside a packaged spool of Onyx and the custom Pelican dry-box

An unpacked spool of Onyx, along with the desiccant packets that are packaged with the spool

Onyx loaded into the custom dry-box. The material is fed through the Bowden tube, which is present in the lower right hand corner of this picture. While we load this material, we simultaneously start the load utility, which is pictured in the upper left

Feeding Onyx through the material opening

We run Onyx through the entire tube, then ensure that the tube is secured on both ends

At this point in the utility, our plastic nozzle is heating. As shown in the picture above, we have a small amount of Onyx ready to run through the plastic extruder

Once the nozzle is completely heated, the screen pictured in the above illustration will appear. When we press Next, the extruder will begin to operate, allowing us to feed Onyx into it

Since Onyx is being pulled automatically through the extruder, we keep watch over the plastic nozzle. Once material begins to feed through the nozzle, we can click on Stop, which will halt the extruder motor

If the process needs to be attempted again, Retry can now be clicked. However, since material successfully passed through the nozzle, we can click Cool Down and remove any dangling Onyx

The entire un-packaging and loading process took only a few minutes, so we can close the dry-box without needed to worry about moisture


With the Onyx loaded, we now have the ability to print using only this material. Many Markforged printers also have the ability continuous fiber filament, and our Mark Two can inlay all of the fiber types available through Markforged. If you’d like to review the types of fiber that are available, including some of their advantages, you can do so here: https://markforged.com/materials/

As shown in some of the above pictures, we have already loaded a spool of Carbon Fiber. Since this material is not as susceptible to moisture, the spool is housed inside the printer.

With both materials loaded, we can move towards printing a part. In order to ensure that our print comes out correctly, we will now level the print bed using the included leveling shims. As was the case with loading material, an on-screen utility walks through how to level your print bed.

Using the included Plastic Shim to level the plastic nozzle correctly. Also pictured is the utility

Markforged also includes a utility that helps to confirm a level print bed. This utility prints several small circles in different areas of the print bed. When the test print is finished, we verify consistency and smoothness across all the circles.

The completed test print, which deposits a single layer of material in several locations to confirm a level print bed

With our material loaded and the print bed leveled, we are now ready to set up our print with Eiger.

Printing with Eiger

As mentioned near the beginning of this content, Eiger is a cloud based slicing software that was developed by Markforged. It is used to customize and set up your prints, and can be accessed via the Google Chrome internet browser. The utilization of the Chrome browser allows Eiger to be accessed from a wide range of devices and operating systems. You can learn more about Eiger by navigating here: https://markforged.com/eiger/

In order to customize our print, we will first want to import the STL of our part. One of the ways to accomplish this is to simply drag and drop our file into the Eiger window, although Eiger does also allow you to browse for local STL files.

To demonstrate some of the options available in Eiger, we will be using a version of our tool caddy that is covered in Part 2 of this series. In general, the tool caddy will not be subject to any abnormal stressors, so we will not be inlaying any fiber for this particular part.

Inlayed fiber is disabled by default, but it can be easily enabled with Eiger

An additional item that can be customized is the infill percentage, which is the amount of internal part space that will be occupied by plastic. The default value for this percentage is 50%, meaning that half of a part will be filled by plastic infill. In almost all cases, the default value of 50% is recommended, although for this part, we will reduce the percentage to 30% to save plastic on a stationary item.

This slider controls infill density. For almost all cases, 50% is the recommended value, but we will be using 30%, since the part will not be subject to stress

We can also change the infill pattern, although the default “triangle” pattern will work just fine for this case.

 

The infill pattern can be set to triangular, hexagonal, or rectangular. The triangular pattern is a good combination of overall strength and print speed

Lastly, we will change the orientation of the part by clicking on the bottom face, aligning it with the print bed. Printing in the correct orientation can help reduce print time and how much material is used.

Changing the orientation of a part is as simple as clicking on the face that you would like to have sit on the print bed

We can now begin the printing of our part. If we wanted to customize the fiber layout or check on how an individual layer will print, we could click on Internal View. To print the file, all we would need to do is click Print. Since Eiger has the ability to send us e-mail notifications when a print is finished, we were able to leave the printer knowing that we would be updated when our part is ready.

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Once a print is finished, all we would need to do is remove it from the print bed using the included scraper. No post processing is required to use parts that are printed from Markforged printers, other than removing any support material that may have been included.

Check out Part 2 of this series, where we cover some of the design changes that were implemented while working on the tool caddy project. We will also take a look at the finished product in use!

For more information, check out our YouTube channel, get a 3D printer quote or contact us at Hawk Ridge Systems today. Thanks for reading!

 

May 10, 2017
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Tyler Bask
June 21, 2018
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