Hewlett-Packard finally is making a big bet on 3D printing. Although HP is targeting a crowded market, the company’s inkjet technology — announced today — looks so revolutionary to analyst Terry Wohlers that he predicts “it could even put some other companies out of business.”
HP’s Multi Jet Fusion TM technology can offer new levels of part quality, 10 times faster and at breakthrough economics relative to similar systems in the marketplace today. These breakthroughs can power the widespread adoption of 3D design and hardware innovation , creating the opportunity for a digital transformation of manufacturing as widespread and profound as the way HP’s Thermal Inkjet solutions changed traditional printing.
HP hasn’t yet announced prices for its machines, which will be tested with key customers for much of 2015 and won’t be widely available for sale until early 2016. But Nigro said that he’s most interested in reaching big industrial users and service bureaus that carry out jobs for small businesses, rather than focusing on the low-end consumer or hobbyist market. Many industrial 3D printers are priced at $150,000 to $500,000 apiece, and Nigro signaled that HP will probably aim its efforts toward the low end of that band.
HP 3D print heads can operate 10,000 nozzles at once, while tracking designs to a five-micron precision.
HP Multi Jet Fusion TM technology starts by laying down a thin layer of material in the working area. Next, the carriage containing an HP Thermal Inkjet array passes from left-to-right, printing chemical agents across the full working area. The layering and energy processes are combined in a continuous pass of the second carriage from top-to-bottom. The process continues, layer-by-layer, until a complete part is formed. At each layer, the carriages change direction for optimum productivity. Using HP Thermal Inkjet arrays with their high number of nozzles per inch, HP’s proprietary synchronous architecture is capable of printing over 30 million drops per second across each inch of the working area.
HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer
HP Future 3d Printing Plans for scaling and more capabilities
The long-term vision for HP Multi Jet FusionTM technology is to create parts with controllably variable—even quite different—mechanical and physical properties within a single part or among separate parts processed simultaneously in the working area. This is accomplished by controlling the interaction of the fusing and detailing agents with each other, with the material to be fused, and with additional transforming agents.
HP is developing the capability to control variable properties with their 3d Printing:
* Accuracy and detail
* Opacity or translucency (for plastics)
* Surface roughness , textures, and friction
* Color (surface and embedded)
* Strength, elasticity, and other material characteristics
* Electrical and thermal conductivity
Color? Fine details? HP shows off its 3-D printing capabilities. (Photo credit: Hewlett-Packard.)
IDC reportss global spending on 3D printers, supplies and services will total a relatively modest $2.7 billion this year. But they expect long-term growth of 29% a year — far beyond the usual trend lines in manufacturing. Bullish analysts at Morgan Stanley foresee even faster annual growth of 34%, or more than $20 billion in sales by 2020. In 2012, Manufacturing was $11.4 trillion of the world economy.