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Markforged X7 Field Edition – 3D printer for the army, to be seen live at the MSPO fair in Kielce

Next week, on September 5-8, 2023, the MSPO (International Defense Industry Exhibition) will begin at Targi Kielce, where one of the exhibitors will be 3D Phoenix – a distributor of Nexa3D, Sinterit and Markforged industrial 3D printers. In particular, the products of the latter company constitute an important item in the 3D Phoenix portfolio, because its 3D printing technology from high-performance plastics and metals is widely used by the arms industry – led by the US army. 3D Phoenix will present Markforged X7 Field Edition in Kielce, which is perfect for producing military applications.

Markforged has repeatedly shared examples of its technology being used by the US military. One of them is Cannon Air Force Base, home to the 27th Special Operations Wing in New Mexico. The unit is responsible for ensuring that the equipment is reliable and available at all times – if a part or device is damaged, the team must replace or repair it quickly. Given the significant wear and tear of combat equipment, the need for spare parts is constant.

Unfortunately, many of the products used in the combat training section do not always meet the specific needs of the team. As a result, they often have to modify equipment to make it lighter and more durable, or add and improve specific features. When the section’s demand for more sophisticated and durable parts increased even more, the unit decided to set up its own 3D printing house. After extensive research, the squadron invested in Markforged X7 printers. The benefits were almost immediate.

3D printing of combat accessories

Pilots need numerous accessories made of materials that are resistant to high temperatures and have high durability. Markforged’s proprietary material – Onyx, reinforced with glass fiber, carbon fiber and Kevlar – is perfect for their production. For example, pilots typically carry equipment weighing approximately 36 kg. Any reduction in payload weight contributes greatly to improving a flier’s endurance and agility. The combat training unit decided to 3D print many of the tools used by Airmen in the field. Tools printed using Onyx are more durable and lighter than their conventional counterparts.

Further applications that are developed using Markforged 3D printers are training kits based on night vision goggles (NVG). The goggles are held in place by NVG mounts attached to the top of aviators’ tactical helmets. Unfortunately, NVG mounts are susceptible to damage from user errors and impacts. A single replacement handle can cost anywhere from $100 to several hundred dollars, with shipping times ranging from several weeks or more. Using the Markforged X7 3D printer, 3D printing replacement handles with built-in spacers costs less than $5 and takes just a few hours to produce.

3D printing in the US army

There are currently 10 centers in the U.S. that focus on specific areas of training for soldiers and service members. At the end of 2019, after exploring different types of 3D printers, one of the training bases imported two Markforged X3 industrial 3D printers and one Mark Two desktop 3D printer. The regiment needed durability, functionality and versatility, and the continuous filament (CFR) 3D printing process on Markforged machines gave them the ability to use carbon fiber, fiberglass and Kevlar. Markforged composite 3D printers are used in the US army to produce, among others: personal protective equipment (PPE), windshield wiper brackets for military vehicles, and small-batch tools and parts.

Another, less obvious example of Markforged’s use of technology was also the printing of small runs of a replacement part for a component that was no longer available: a hatch plug mounted on the top of a vehicle used in low-light conditions. The hatch cover helps the driver see at night, giving him the ability to alert soldiers to attack. Unfortunately, this part was no longer in production and cost approximately $10,000 to recreate, not to mention a 3-month turnaround time. For Markforged, the regiment printed a manhole plug using Markforged Onyx for $230, and then another using 17-4PH stainless steel on Metal X for $800. The app alone saved the regiment $244,000.

Markforged X7 Field Edition – see it live

The best opportunity to see Markforged 3D printers and applications made from them will be a visit to the above-mentioned MSPO fair in Kielce and visiting the 3D Phoenix stand. The company will present the Markforged X7 Field Edition there and will also talk about the possibilities offered by this machine to users.

The distributor of Markforged in Poland is 3D Phoenix. Ask what can improve your business: [email protected].

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