WATERTOWN, Mass.—A new high-strength 3D printing material released by Markforged is reported to enable electronics manufacturers to produce high-quality ESD-safe parts on demand. The company’s launch of the composite material, Onyx ESD, comes amid growing demand for 3D printing materials that are not only safe for electronics manufacturing, but also produce high-quality and high-strength parts, Markforged said in a release.

Many industries have leveraged additive manufacturing within the last year to withstand unforeseen supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19. Use of the technology for production of electronics, however, has been limited due to a unique set of barriers, according to the release.

Electronics manufacturers must use materials that meet electrostatic discharge (ESD) safety requirements to avoid damaging a product or a critical component during production. Previously available additive manufacturing materials have exhibited inconsistent ESD-safe properties, inadequate dimensional accuracy, poor surface finish, or low strength. As a result, adoption of 3D printing technology by electronics manufacturers has been limited, the company said in the release.

But according to Markforged, Onyx ESD enables electronics manufacturers to unleash the power of additive manufacturing. The material is said to be a high-performance static-dissipative version of Markforged’s flagship composite base material, Onyx, a micro carbon fiber-filled nylon that yields accurate parts with excellent surface finish. Onyx ESD was developed to achieve an extremely tight surface resistance range to consistently meet strict ESD-safe requirements, according to the company.

The material can be reinforced with continuous carbon fiber, creating what are reported to be the strongest 3D printed composite parts available to the electronics manufacturing industry. When printing with Onyx ESD, electronics manufacturers can safely produce strong, accurate tools and fixtures ready for the manufacturing floor, as well as high-quality customer-ready parts, the company said.

Onyx ESD has reportedly allowed Columbia Elektronik, a Swedish electronics testing equipment manufacturer, to use Markforged’s Digital Forge to seamlessly produce complex, ESD-safe testing fixtures. With Markforged, Columbia Elektronik has been able to reduce costs and free up its machinists to focus on other projects while parts are printing.

“We are seeing an increase in demand for ESD-safe parts, to keep up with the advancements of the technology in the industry,” said Columbia Elektronik Design Engineer Christer Lang, in the release.  “Markforged is filling a gap in accessing those parts with Onyx ESD, enabling us to design complex parts quickly. This material, coupled with Markforged’s 3D printers, eliminates the need for time-consuming assembly—freeing up our workforce and releasing time spent on our CNC machines. Now, with Onyx ESD, we will be able to print high-strength ESD-safe parts on demand that are customer ready.”

Markforged (https://www.markforged.com) is the creator of what it called “the world’s largest metal and carbon fiber industrial 3D printing platform,” the Digital Forge.

“Manufacturers choose Markforged because our Digital Forge delivers strong, high-quality parts while significantly reducing time and cost,” said Markforged Vice President of Marketing Michael Papish, in the release. “Onyx ESD opens the door for electronics manufacturers to innovate across our platform, too. The launch of the new material allows our customers, who value ESD-safe properties, to remain competitive and print best-in-class parts and tools for their customers.”

Onyx ESD is said to provide higher strength and stiffness than the original Onyx material. It is compatible with Markforged’s full range of continuous fiber reinforcement materials, the company said.

Printing with Onyx ESD is available on Markforged’s X7, X5, and X3 printers and can be accessed by existing customers via Markforged’s cloud-based software, Eiger. The software enables over-the-air updates of new products and features to improve hardware already in the field.

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