The new carbon fiber-filled PEKK can save weight, cost and lead time by replacing aluminum

WALTHAM, Mass.—Markforged Holding Corporation recently released what it called an “ultra-high performance filament” that is designed for 3D printing of aerospace components on Markforged’s FX20™ printer. The new material, Vega™, is reported to offer exceptional strength and is expected to bring customers substantial advantages in weight reduction, cost efficiency, and lead time savings, the company said in a release.

Vega is said to build upon Markforged’s material expertise and proven track record of engineering chopped carbon fiber-filled polymers that deliver strength, precision, and surface quality. Markforged said it developed Vega to be compatible with the FX20’s Continuous Fiber Reinforcement technology to deliver aluminum-strength parts.

“Vega is formulated to expand aerospace applications for our customers,” said Shai Terem, CEO of Markforged, in the release. “Vega incorporates PEKK, a proven material in aerospace that possesses excellent strength and stiffness. We believe this material will set the standard in print quality for high temperature thermoplastics and expand the adoption of our FX20 printer.”

According to Markforged, Vega exhibits excellent surface quality that exceeds most high-temperature plastics used in additive manufacturing. With a smooth black matte surface finish, the material offers an excellent as-printed finish for aesthetic aerospace parts. The new material resists warping, a constant problem for high-temperature plastics, and exhibits flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST) resistance for high-value applications, the company said.

Vega’s inherent print quality advantages are expected to drive favorable business outcomes for customers, particularly with production parts. Fewer defects and minimal warpage mean less post-processing to achieve production surface quality, allowing for higher part acceptance rates during inspection, according to the company.

The new material is reported to expand the utility of 3D printing with continuous fiber reinforcement for aerospace manufacturing, from aesthetic parts to non-critical structural parts in interiors and similar applications. Combined with Markforged’s Continuous Fiber Reinforcement technology, Vega provides increased design flexibility without sacrificing strength—a combination that opens new applications unreachable with other high-performance filaments, the company said.