A 3D-printed motorcycle lever made using Fortify’s technology. (Image courtesy of Fortify.)
Those who have been following the 3D printing industry more recently have had the opportunity to witness the birth of composite 3D printing technologies. Starting with Markforged, which introduced continuous carbon fiber printing to the world in 2013, we’ve since seen numerous companies come forth with new methods for 3D printing fiber reinforcements, usually highlighting carbon fiber as the reinforcement of choice.
One of the latest startups to emerge is Fortify, which has a completely novel approach to composite 3D printing. One of the ways that the firm stands out from the other innovators in the space is its use of magnetics to orient reinforcement fibers within a part.
Every new 3D printing technology has to have a name. In the case of Fortify, it’s Digital Composite Manufacturing (DCM) and it was born out of PhD work Martin was pursuing at Northeastern University.
At the Directed Assembly of Particles and Suspensions lab of Fortify, cofounder Randall Erb, Martin and several other cofounders were exploring possibilities for the magnetic assembly of structures found in nature, such as bone, that are strong, stiff and tough.
“What’s unique is that [these materials found in nature are] typically made of pretty simple building blocks. In [the case of bone] it’s essentially collagen and biominerals,” Martin said. “We started using this technique to replicate biological structures and then realized that it could be used to change the way that 3D printing composites was approached.”
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