Carbon 3D Printers

I was wondering if any first robotics teams had bought a Carbon M1 Printer or something similar. I was curious if it worked well and if it was worth the investment.

We got the Onyx Pro this year and have loved it so far!


the question you need to ask is “are our 3d printed parts not strong enough” or “do we need stronger 3d parts to make this” And if you do need stronger parts, I would try printing polycarbonate that is far better than ABS.

I was looking towards the speed of the printers and the strength of the material that they make. The printer I looked up was able to turn a part from a 3 hour job into a 7 minute print. They are crazy expensive so I was unsure if any team could afford one but I may be mistaken.

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Several high performing teams (1678, 148, 33 to name a few) have purchased Markforged printers over the past couple seasons. I’ve heard nothing but great things. Most have just been getting the Onyx One, I’ve heard that for strictly FRC purposes it’s more useful to get a Onxy One and more filament over the Onxy Pro.

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The only problem we have is how slow they are with printing, but they make very high quality parts!

I believe this thread is referring to the carbon m1 3d printer (made famous in that one ted talk), not carbon based prints.

The Carbon printers are super fast, so can be some significant benefit if you’re prototyping extremely fast. However, there’s a few things to keep in mind with resin printers:

  1. They’re generally more expensive, as you’ve found
  2. Material tends to cost significantly more
  3. Curing times are generally required, and this can affect how/what kind of parts are made (ex. not making parts too thick so they cure properly)

We have some of these at Georgia Tech in the Invention Studio, so I’ve used them a couple times. While they can be nice to have in certain situations, I would say for most teams the utility of a lower-cost 3D printer is probably sufficient (ex. Prusa).

Here’s a link for some extra reading, in case you haven’t run across this before:

He did mention that or something similar, I think he just wants any carbon printer really to find out if they work well.

The Carbon M1 seems like a great printer for what it’s meant for, which is printing relatively small, detailed parts extremely fast in a variety of resins. It’s also incredibly expensive to both purchase and run. If you’re printing enough to make the Carbon’s speed important, you’re going to start hitting the $5500 price limit for your whole robot pretty quickly.

There are much more affordable resin printers out there, if you’re looking to check out resin. The Formlabs printers are fantastic (and founded by an FRC alum!). The Markforged printers a few people have mentioned in this thread are a bit slow, but make fantastically strong parts by combining nylon, carbon fiber, and fiber reinforcement. My school has a Mark Two, and we love it.

I have spent the last 10 years or so working with 3D printing and additive manufacturing from scales between printing 500,000 parts a year to doing one off engineering and product development work.

A Carbon M1 would be of limited use to a robotics team. Something that is not widely advertised is that there is a lengthy post curing time after the “5 minute” print. This means that the through put and productivity of the printer is very good, but lead time is only shortened a little. In practical terms your first part from the printer will be ready overnight.

Next, they have had some issues with predicting the zone in which the curing is inhibited. This means that you will likely have to print multiples of the same type of part to get the scaling correct. This is not an issue if you plan to print 10,000 shoe soles, but is a big deal when you only want one or two of something.

The third thing is the cost. Unlike most printers where you buy the printer as a one time expense and then it is just maintenance and materials. The Carbon pricing structure is a $50,000 per year lease with a 3 year minimum contract length. Committing to $150,000 expense with no capital asset at the end of the contract is a big stumbling block for many schools, and other non profits that your typical team is based out of or funded by.

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Hey! I’ve had a chance to use the Carbon M1 printers for work in an automotive setting a few years back. They are definitely high quality printers and I can answer any technical questions if you have them, but unfortunately based on Carbon’s model I don’t believe they would be a realistic option for any FRC team.

I’ve not used a Carbon printer, but I was curious about the cost.

I just googled this up–is this really right? I can’t imagine our team ever being able to afford $40k/year for a ‘subscription’.

Yep, see BeardyMentor’s post above.

I don’t really see our team ever having the budget for something like the Carbon either. FRC and schools aren’t really the target market for their printers.

My day job evaluated some Carbon 3D prints for a variety of performance levels. They were spectacular in everything we tested.

Would I get one for my FRC team? Probably not. For the same reason I wouldn’t buy a mold-making CNC mill - it’s wild overkill for most things an FRC team would ever want to do.

Are you still in this field or out of touch recently? The scale issue is pretty much a thing of the past. Especially on our carbon prints. I actually think I have seen more scale issues with SLS than SLA printers recently; even that is a tiny piece of the pie.

To OP…
That being said, get a Onyx printer. The pulse from MatterHackers is actually pretty darn good too if you want something under 2k that is reasonably turn key.

To combat the slower print time that comes with 100(ish) micron layer height, get 3 onyx printers for 3500 instead of a single Mark Two. For FRC applications, you will rarely see a need for continuous fiber reinforced parts.

But if the Speed of SLA printing is what you are after, you can get into a FormLabs setup for around 5-6000. Plan for a 20 minute wash cycle and 2 hour curing oven session per build plate, besides the print time for the actual part.


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Not out of touch. but as of last year when I was last talking to them, the scaling thing was still an issue to their sales team. I am impressed that they have fixed it.

I haven’t noticed issues from a user end.


we stopped looking at Carbon about a year ago when our parts started being used with flourinated solvents. Since then it has been all about flouropolymers and Hastalloy.

This is our first year with a Markforged Onyx-only printer, and we’ve LOVED it. We’ve worked it hard.

Slightly OT: Anyone having luck 3D printing polycarbonate? If so, printer recommendation? Thx.