Eighteen months after HP announced its Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) system, the company chose SME’s RAPID event in Orlando, FL, to announce a production-ready 3D printing system, encompassing prototyping, short-run manufacturing, software, and post-processing. HP displayed the printers and post-processing station, as well as plastic and ceramic printed objects, at the 3D printing conference.
One of the printers was just for display; the other was actively printing.
“We want to change how the world designs and manufactures parts. We want to lead the next industrial revolution,” Stephen Nigro, president of HP’s 3D printing business. “It’s going to be the world’s first production-ready 3D printing system.”
HP introduced two printers – the HP Jet Fusion 3D 3200 and 4200 – that will be delivered late this year and in 2017, respectively. The company is claiming its printers cost half of what is currently on the market, with the 3200 starting at $130,000 and the full end-to-end solution (the 3200 printer and processing station) starting at $155,000. The company also asserted its printers are 10 times faster than what is currently available.
Nigro emphasized the openness of the platform, especially with regard to materials. HP partnered with Arkema, BASF, Evonik and Lehmann & Voss to create a “material app store” that will allow users to print in a variety of materials–plastic and ceramic for now, though HP has a roadmap for metal and glass.
“We’re embracing an open platform because we believe it is the key to innovation in the industry,” Nigro said. “We’re counting on our materials partners to dramatically expand our materials.”
The MJF system as a whole was also developed through partnerships with several firms, including Autodesk, BMW, Materialise, Nike, Proto Labs, and Siemens.
“Our partners all had one thing in common: They wanted 3D to transform their business,” Nigro said.
HP is also introducing software to manage workflow.
The software will support multiple file formats, including 3MF, an improved 3D printing file format that HP helped develop. The company said its Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution is the first printer to be fully compliant with the standard.
HP pointed to the voxel–essentially the 3D equivalent of a 2D pixel in traditional printing–as the cornerstone of the MJF system.
The ability to transform part properties at the voxel level gives the user expanded control over applications, colors, and materials. The MJF system is capable of printing more than 340 million voxels per second, which HP said offers “faster speeds, functional parts, and breakthrough economics.”
Printing at the voxel level also allows for embedded intelligence, such as sensors in parts, and embedded information, such as invisible traces or codes. As an example, Nigro shared a printed chain link that featured embedded circuitry, which allows you to see stress on the chain link as it is being used.
“Think about the Internet of Things,” he said. “It’s about connecting products, and now we’re connecting components.”
Looking forward, HP estimated that 50% of custom plastic parts for the MJF printers will be printed and produced using MJF technology.
“Five years from now, this is still going to be one of the biggest innovations in 3D printing,” Nigro said.