Hypothetical carbon fiber printer

OK, we have a promising lead on some grant money. It could go to a carbon fiber capable 3D printer. Assuming a budget of 5K and a need to spend a few hundred of it to build an enclosure to keep monkeys out, what printer would be most useful for a mid resource FRC team?

Assume we can get reasonable quantities of filament outside the grant structure. Priority on durability and on the ability to use multiple filament types. It would be used in season for the FRC team, off season in our summer programming, and for supervised use by the school generally.

Markforged? Something else?

Thanks in advance.


Do you have other 3d printers already? Are you set on the idea that 5k is best spent on a high performance printer for your team or are you open to other options?

Markforged is probably the right choice if you have $5K

Do you have printers outside of your Markforged? If not, that’s probably a good thing to consider, since the filament cost will be kinda high on the Markfordged. Think Ender 3 or Prusa mini. Those printers are going to save you money in the long run, if you can use cheap PLA for prototypes, and then use the CF nylon for your final copy.

Unfortunately the Markfordged will only run their Onyx filament, but from what I understand will be fairly fuss-free compared to other options. If your goal is Carbon Fiber, this is probably the way to go.

Now if you are set on wanting multiple materials, Maybe consider a couple Prusa I3 MK3S+s or a Prusa XL. They can do CF Nylon (with a hardened nozzle). They would have more fuss if you are running CF Nylon, but it would open up nearly all materials.

You could also run the new CF polycarbonate blend Prusament makes, which would be pretty strong in many applications. That is, if it ever comes back in stock. (I managed to get a spool, and really liked it)


Several Prusas but they are frequently inoperative as they are in general use. Oh, definitely open to other options, but this could fit several niches for us. I’ve wanted to do a middle school level design/print program for some time now. And as we have limited CNC access the chance to “leap frog” technologically is appealing. But…open mind. I may put out a wider question but that would require a longer lead in and an inventory of what we currently have access to.


Ah…I suppose I should have realized that Markforged only ran the carbon. We have some expertise with Prusa minis but they are often broken. Having our own secured unit might be the way to go.


A Markforged printer can be extremely useful if you’re prepared for the costs to run it. Carbon Fiber aside, it’s by far the most precise/accurate 3D printer we have, and we’ll use it for parts we need to “just work” like pulleys and even spur gears (low-torque only, of course).

Now that said, you pay for that accuracy and durability in $$$ and time (it’s relatively slow compared to most printers) so it definitely wouldn’t be my first choice for a 3D printer if you’re just getting into it.

Sometimes you need accuracy and durability, and sometimes you just need a workhorse that can pump out parts on the cheap. I use my own printer (an old Robo3D R1+) to make a TON of parts for my team out of eSun PLA+, including almost all of our 2020/2021 turret/shooter mechanism. It lacks the dimensional accuracy and durability of a Markforged part, but I can print parts in less than 1/4 the time, and with some tuning, can get enough accuracy and durability for most purposes, plus it’s cheap enough to operate that you can easily make spares.

If you don’t already have a 3D printer, go for something like a Prusa i3, or, if you can afford to wait till summer, the Prusa XL (personally I’d avoid the Mini), which will give you a lot more flexibility (due to the larger build volume) and the ability to make a lot more parts cheaply.

That said if you already have other 3D printers, and are prepared for the running costs, a Markforged is an excellent machine to have.


Strongly agree. There are “100 little things” that make Prusa conversions terrible for Nylon. If carbon fiber nylon is the goal, go MF.

Note all carbon everything is not a good fit for all applications. The majority of programs would be better off with five Prusas printing PLA+, to enable more students to fail faster in whatever exciting colors they want, than having one MF that students are scared of wasting the material for (self fulfilling, because then the reel wets in the drybox lol).

Array-of-5 is the direction I wish I had taken 2 years ago. I hadn’t fully appreciated the student psychology side prior to getting our MF in.


I think the filament cost we can work out. As this would be “our” printer but living in the school we would make it available to students outside the program if we can train them in. And use it for classes we run. I think a certain number of spools of carbon could be part of the deal. We would also be very happy to run parts for the rookie team down the road.

But as others have said, it might not make the most sense to go straight to this option. The run time point is also germane. Walking away from this thing while it works is not appealing.


I’m curious what sort of machine failures you are having with mini’s that are often broken? This seems like a more important problem to solve.

Like others have said, if carbon fiber nylon is the end goal then a markforged is the move, but is not being able to print high performance filament the most important problem?

For our team we find that lack of available printers to be our biggest limiting factor in 3d printing. If our few printers are all running parts at a meeting that won’t finish until after we leave, we can’t start more parts until the next meeting. This slows down iteration and is more of a problem that not being able to print carbon fiber nylon.


Well the travails of the Prusas are hard to explain. They are in use by the general student population during the day. When we show up to work after hours they are periodically out of order and repair seems a low priority at our school. Of the four they bought last spring one died very quickly…seems somebody left it running overnight and some mishap occurred. It vanished and has not returned. Last time we tried to use the three survivors one needed calibration and one had a broken fan. One worked.

A case could be made for us to buy a pair of Prusas just for our use and guard them carefully.

We are basically a community team existing in a school space, so our interaction with “the day shift” is not extensive.


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Also, if CF is a goal, you can try CF filled filaments that aren’t nylon too. They still need a hardened nozzle, but don’t have quite the same dry requirements that nylon will. Search: 10 results found for "carbon fiber" – Atomic Filament

I have had great luck at work using a Prusa with a Volcano hotend, and enclosure, and Atomic Carbon PETG. We’ve probably only put a few hundred hours on it at most over the last year.

You mentioned limited CNC access. Is an Omio on the table? You could get that and a Prusa mini inside your budget, including shipping and tooling.

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There is a router on site, but getting kids trained on it has proven difficult. It too is sometimes broken! But we’ll get there. We also have reasonably good laser cutting for polycarb on site and off site options for steel and aluminum. So…work arounds all over the place.

Thanks for the tip on the Atomic Carbon. Looks interesting.


Unless you have operational ‘everyday’ printers, for PLA/PETg, I would forgo a MF. Get several Prusa’s, lock them down, and train kids to use them perfectly!

We have 2 Prusa i3 MK3s, 1 Dremel 3d45, AND THEN we splurged for a MF which we use VERY judiciously. Much better to have 3-5 good Prusa’s before a MF.

Plus if you are sharing printers with the “Day Shift” how are you going to do these 19hr prints? :slight_smile:

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3452 uses the, Creality CRS 10 Pro V2 with a hardened nozzle it’s capable of CF Nylon ,although it’s closer it it’s limits than more high end printers. We’ve had very little fuss from this printer even as far as giving it a 12 hour print. They’re relatively cheap for the build volume ( 300300400mm) and features it comes with such as auto bed leveling, max nozzle temp of 260c and bed temp of 100c. The only modification we’ve done was build an enclosure. You could definitely pick up more than a couple for $5,000.00

With this information my thought is that you would be better served by having a handful of known good printers printing decent (and consistent) filament (prusa Mini’s/mk3s with petg/tough pla) that were in your control, than having a single markforged.

Gregory78 Thanks, I’m thinking that makes sense. A couple of Prusas, an enclosure, assorted extras like the nozzle for doing higher end filament. We could round out the package with some other things we will use going forward. Our video efforts have stalled a bit since a recent graduation, so a camera, tripod, maybe laptop dedicated to that. We still have severe issues with storage space…but I’ve concluded that a complete lack of reported space is never actually that way. Workspaces are like the TARDIS…

It may be that a few of the defunct, dusty, old 3D printers now occupying valuable real estate will disappear.

Meeting today, we will undertake a census of functional printers.


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If you’re plan is to now get multiple of the same printer I’d suggest getting a printer for each type of filament, one for PLA, one for PETG, one for CF Nylon, TPU etc… In theory after you have then dialed in for their respective filament you shouldn’t have to change any settings on it. Just slice and go.

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So far when ever 3d printers are discussed on Delphi, Most of the models recommended are open frame hobby-consumer models. For printing the tougher engineering grade filaments, an elevated chamber temperature is required. Especially for large prints. There are many enclosed printers on the market that while they do not have active heated chambers, the heat from the bed can heat the chamber. Creality has a line of enclosed printers for example. We now have a actively heated chamber printer. This has opened up reliable large prints in nylon, nylon CF and true polycarbonate. We recently printed a swerve plate for testing and have found that PC is almost as stiff as the PA6 CF same plate. After I let the students beat it up, the PC plate is in good shape, the PA CF is warped. The PC plate was printed at 70c chamber 280 hot end and 110 build plate. PEI bed with PC adhesive. I would spend some money on a printer that can meet these requirements.


What model Creality?

And for those following this thread the three remaining Prusas were checked for signs of life. Two are operational. Today at least!


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