Just in case you have $4,999 lying around and have a hankering to print in carbon fiber, the Mark One 3D printer is now available for pre-order. Named aptly for its creator, Gregory Mark, who also owns Aeromotions, this desktop printer debuted at SolidWorks World 2014 in San Diego. After seeing the expense and time currently associated with carbon fiber manufacturing, Mark started down a path that eventually ended up at the Mark One. “We took the idea of 3D printing, that process of laying things down strand by strand, and we used it as a manufacturing process to make composite parts,” he told Popular Mechanics.
Carbon fiber (CF) has long been a material of choice for automotive and aerospace applications due to its light weight and extreme strength – to the point where its trademark weave pattern has become synonymous with high performance vehicles. Carbon fiber bolt-on parts, or even plastic ones designed to look like CF, are hot items in the aftermarket auto parts industry, and the ability to 3D print such items will presumably open up all sorts of new applications in this and other areas.
Carbon fiber is made of long strings of carbon atoms that can be woven together to form sheets. It is strong but flexible, and a good conductor of heat and electricity.