This spring, Markforged introduced its Blacksmith AI software; this summer, the company dedicated 2,000 square feet to its further development.
The Boston-based company has been dedicated since its inception to strength in 3D printing. We’ve seen them develop office-friendly carbon fiber and metal 3D printing systems — but as with even the best thought-out hardware, they can’t live up to their potential without the software to back them up.
Markforged has long offered its proprietary Eiger software to power its systems, with significant in-house expertise ensuring ongoing development in software. In an increasingly automated Industry 4.0 workspace, though, software has also felt the pull toward automation — including artificial intelligence (AI).
And so in May, Markforged introduced Blacksmith, its AI software offering.
When I spoke with CEO Greg Mark about what Blacksmith means for the company, he called it “definitely the most exciting thing we’ve announced.” Blacksmith isn’t applicable only to the company’s Metal X 3D printers, though it’s beginning in-house and with a sintering focus; as it continues to learn from thousands and thousands of prints and data points, it can use this learning outside the industry, for CNC, for injection molding.
Markforged describes Blacksmith:
“Blacksmith is the first AI-powered software that makes manufacturing machines self-aware so they can automatically adjust their programming to ensure every part produced is perfect. The software analyzes a design, compares it to the part scanned by inspection equipment, and dynamically adapts the end-to-end process to produce perfectly in-spec parts.”
Because it was developed for metal 3D printing, by a 3D printing-focused company, that’s a great starting point; “but why stop there?” as VP of Product Jon Reilly asked during my demo at RAPID + TCT.
So they’re not stopping there.
In fact, they’re not even stopping in their own facilities. At least, not their previously existing facilities.
New R&D Innovation Center
Last week, Markforged opened its new 2,000-square-foot office in Kendall Square, in the Cambridge Innovation Center, just across town from the company’s Watertown HQ.
The plan for the new site is to double the size of the software and AI developer teams. As if doubling isn’t ambitious enough, that expansion is intended for this year.
The company notes that Kendall Square offers access to “top-tier AI developer talent,” as CTO and Co-Founder David Benhaim put it. No wonder, as Cambridge is home to both MIT and Harvard University, and Boston’s other top-tier educational institutes are also quite close.
Dedicated innovation space ensures that the software and AI developers will have the immediate access they need to their teammates as they continue to develop the adaptive manufacturing solution.
Growth at Markforged
For 2019, Blacksmith is all speed ahead — but that’s hardly the only growth area in the company.
Markforged is keen to participate in the discussion surrounding the disruption of Industry 4.0 technologies, and to take the lead in that conversation when appropriate. And people are listening.
With an R&D center now dedicated to software development, we can see that resources focused on particular areas of the business are becoming more available to the fast-growing company.