Markforged Customer Success Story: Autometrix
MARK ONE CUTTING BOTH TEXTILES AND COSTS IN INDUSTRY
Autometrix, a manufacturer of Precision Cutting Solutions for the industrial textile world, has been using the Mark One printer from Markforged. The Mark One reduced prototyping time from weeks to days, and reduced the weight of a prototype cutting head by half a pound.
From canvas and ripstop nylon all the way to carbon fibre and tarp, Autometrix Precision Cutting Solutions designs and manufactures cutting equipment for textiles in nearly every industry. They started out with sailmakers but since then Autometrix has provided cutting equipment and patterning software to a variety of industrial applications, used for anything from transportation to medical devices.
In the cutting industry, Autometrix strives for their machines to be fast, precise, and efficient. As Chief Technical Officer, Jonathan Palmer manages new product development, especially in the hardware and mechanical systems. “The equipment we build is almost always made out of machined aluminium parts. The problem that we run into as we’ve tried to increase how quickly we can prototype things is that a one-off machined aluminium part is very expensive,” Palmer explained. “We were working to bring more control over our own prototyping process, but we needed to make sure that the results of that prototyping process were real to what we were trying to design.”
They needed an inexpensive method to produce prototypes that could match the strength of a machined component.
“The main thing standing between Autometrix and 3D printing has always been the strength of the part: Is it going to be a part that we can really test in a real world environment?” asked Palmer.
Palmer recognised the need for an efficient CNC prototyping tool like a 3D printer, but desktop 3D printers didn’t produce parts with the strength they needed, and metal 3D printers and other industrial CNC machines were far too expensive to even consider purchasing. That’s when they found out about the Mark One and how it could be used to make end-use 3D printed parts.
“As soon as we were able to see a printer that could create a part out of plastic with reinforcement that gave us something we could really work with, that really caught our attention,” Palmer described.
The Mark One met all of the qualifications they needed in a printer: with its low price, its high precision, and its part strength comparable to metal, Autometrix could easily test new ideas and prototypes without having to pay third party manufacturers for expensive, single parts and long lead times.
Tyler Green, Electrical Engineer at Autometrix says: “We’re really excited to use the 3D printer going forward. One of our first big projects…we actually printed out an entire cutting head on the Mark One. And after building it up, calibrating it, testing it, we put it on a scale and found out that just the cutting head alone is about half a pound lighter than its aluminium counterpart,” Green described.
“For us, weight savings on any part is especially desirable because all of our cutting happens on a moving carriage…a half a pound lost on any part means less wear and tear on the machine…it gives us more capability going down the road.”
The lightweight cutting head made on the Mark One held up to all the abuse their metal counterparts do and more, allowing Green and other engineers at Autometrix to improve and expand their mechanical systems.
Palmer explains: “The printer really changes our ability to try new iterations of things; to say ‘that sounds like a reasonable idea, let’s give it a try,’ and move on to the next step.”
With the Markforged printer, Autometrix no longer needs to send out prototype parts to an external manufacturer, only to wait up to two weeks before getting it back. “We are constantly cycling through new ideas for our machines…having a 3D printer to take an idea from our computer screen to real life…and then with the Mark One, actually use it, in the matter of just a day, is stellar,” said Green.
Watch this video to see how the Mark One has allowed Autometrix to vastly reduce development time, and its capabilities help cut textiles, time, and costs much more efficiently.