Why Google and NASA are flocking to 3D printing startup Markforged

Written by Justine Hofherr
Published on Jul. 31, 2017
Why Google and NASA are flocking to 3D printing startup Markforged
Photo via Markforged

The story of metal 3D printing used to mean a million-dollar machine taking up an entire room.

Until Markforged.

The Cambridge-based company, which rocked the manufacturing world when it introduced cloud-managed 3D printing with carbon fiber, is doing it again — but this time, with metal.

“Our goal to reinvent manufacturing with strong, reliable parts that can exceed our customers’ expectations,” said Jason Eubanks, the company’s chief revenue office

With Markforged’s new Metal X 3D Printer, customers in the aerospace, medical, automotive and industrial industries can print products in stainless steel, aluminum, onyx, titanium and more in under a day, eliminating one of the most pressing concerns engineers face.

“The mechanical engineer’s eternal problem is waiting for parts,” CEO Greg Mark said in a video on the company’s website. “But with 3D printing, the whole cycle of ‘design and wait six weeks’ is cut down to ‘design and wait a day,’ Mark added.

That’s why Markforged has already attracted thousands of customers, including industry leaders like Google, Amazon, Ford, NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

Mark, an MIT aerospace engineer and innovator in motorsports racing technology, founded the company in 2013 after thinking there had to be a better way to prototype and create advanced parts.

He started by creating the first (and only) affordable 3D desktop printer that embedded continuous fiber into printed carbon and nylon for composite parts that have the strength of metal.

Fast-forward four years, and Markforged has nearly $27 million in funding under its belt with backing from leading tech venture capital firms on both the East and West Coast, including Matrix Partners, Trinity Ventures and Northbridge Venture Partners.

The secret to bringing 3D metal printing to the desktop? Markforged’s Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM) process.

According to the company, the process creates parts by “using a bound metal powder rod that transforms into a dense metal part in one easy step. Bulk sintering (the process of forming a solid mass of material by heat) provides crystal growth through all axes giving your parts excellent mechanical properties in all directions.”

To date, the company has deployed over 3,000 3D printers, used for making everything from whale research drones and go-karts to orthopedic joint replacements and French horns.

Markforged currently has 75 employees, but with a 300 percent revenue growth trajectory for the year, Eubanks said they’re hiring for roles in sales, marketing and engineering.

The company’s other goal for 2017 is to grow their customer base, Eubanks said.

“Any company that makes a product that goes ‘bang!’ when dropped could use Markforged in their process,” Eubanks said.

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