Most people’s encounters with 3D printing technology so far have involved feeding long ropes of plastic into a desktop unit that shapes it into form, but HP Inc. is extending that capability to include industrial-grade metals.
Announced at the 2018 International Manufacturing Technology Show on Sept. 10, the HP Metal Jet is intended for high volume manufacturing of production-grade metal parts. HP is touting more efficiency and lower costs than other 3D-printing methods.
Aside from selling the Metal Jet technology to manufacturers, HP is partnering with GKN Power Metallurgy and Parmatech to deliver finished metal parts as a service. Customers placing orders for the 3D-printed metal widgets include auto-maker Volkswagen and Primo Medical Group.
Here’s a look at a couple of the customer-personalized parts Volkswagen plans to offer its customers with the new capability:
HP included this quote from Volkswagen in its press release:
“The auto industry is being revolutionized – not only do customers now expect personalization, but by 2025 the brands of Volkswagen Group will have introduced 80 new electric models,“ said Martin Goede, Head of Technology Planning and Development, Volkswagen. “A single car consists of six thousand to eight thousand different parts. A big advantage of an additive technology like HP Metal Jet is it allows us to produce many of these parts without first having to build manufacturing tools. By reducing the cycle time for the production of parts, we can realize a higher volume of mass production very quickly. That’s why HP’s new Metal Jet platform is a huge leap forward for the industry, and we look forward to raising the bar on what is possible to deliver more value and innovation for our customers.“
HP’s Metal Jet technology is capable of voxel-level (a voxel is a 3D pixel) detail through its jets. The print bed size is 430 mm by 320 mm by 200 mm.
An HP Youtube commercial explains the new Metal Jet printers further: