New software is reported to streamline workflow by enabling simultaneous 3D printing,  scanning of parts

 WATERTOWN, Mass.—Markforged has released new software for Markforged X7 printers that is said to connect part design, production, and inspection with the ability to learn through artificial intelligence (AI). The company, creator of an integrated metal and carbon fiber additive manufacturing platform known as The Digital Forge, said in a release that its Blacksmith software “marks a major step on the journey toward the future of autonomous manufacturing.”

Markforged envisions that future to include 3D printers that will intelligently adapt themselves and account for variables that can affect a part as it is printed, so that it prints accurately and precisely the first time. Using Blacksmith, manufacturers will be able to “instantly print accurate parts across The Digital Forge, anywhere in the world,” the company said in the release.

With Blacksmith, manufacturers can print and scan their part simultaneously to assess how close the printed part is to the intended design. Blacksmith is designed to continuously learn from each print through closed loop processing. The goal, of course, is to print parts accurately and precisely every time.

Blacksmith is said to enable the printer to be fully aware of the parts it produces. It uses in-process part inspection to give customers confidence in the part after every print. By streamlining this workflow, Blacksmith makes factories more cost-efficient, accelerates time to market, and reduces the cost of production, according to Markforged.

Blacksmith’s intelligent software harnesses the power of the X7’s existing integrated laser micrometer and a patented smart scanning process to securely measure parts as they are being printed. The part dimensional data is then automatically evaluated against the intended design files. Scanning while printing will enable inspection of the inner part structure and critical features that would otherwise be impossible in a single step after fabrication, the company said.

“Markforged’s Blacksmith enables dimensional confirmation of additive parts straight off the print bed, giving engineers confidence that the parts are within spec prior to use,” said Kelly Puckett, senior engineering manager for additive manufacturing, Dana Incorporated, in the release. “There is no need for secondary systems, additional equipment, or separate databases for results—all of which help streamline workflows and get us to market faster. Blacksmith also allows for comparative data when printing the same part in multiple locations around the world, critical for multinational organizations like Dana.”

Blacksmith is available as a software subscription on all cloud-connected Markforged X7 printers. It is provisioned through over-the-air updates for easy customer access and requires an OEM-certified reference bed calibration.

“We knew that it would only be possible to reinvent manufacturing with a software-first approach to building hardware,” said David Benhaim, CTO and cofounder, Markforged, in the release. “Blacksmith fundamentally changes the way engineers think about additive manufacturing. For the first time, they will have confidence that their parts will perform as expected without a time-consuming process. Blacksmith makes our platform smarter and is the next step on our roadmap to bring the agility of software to the world of manufacturing.”

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