HP Inc. reports that it’s opened the “world’s first 3D-open materials and applications lab” in Corvallis, Oregon. Interestingly, the lab’s location is also the site where, some 30 years ago, HP engineers developed thermal inkjet-printing, the technology at the core of HP’s 3D-printing technology.
HP says that the Corvallis lab will be used to test new materials, including those developed by partners, for use in HP 3D printers, and to research new HP 3D-printing technologies. It says it’ll be focusing on “fostering a partner-driven, open-materials marketplace to accelerate the creation of production-ready 3D-printed parts.”
HP’s new 3D Open Materials and Applications Lab occupies a 3,500 square-foot space where 3D-materials partners can develop and test new materials for use with HP 3D printers, and get time feedback from engineers.
The firm says its focus on cross-industry collaboration at the new lab is meant to spur innovation and speed time-to-market, as well enter the $12 trillion 3D-printing manufacturing industry with new 3D-printing materials and applications.
HP began shipping its first Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers, which are designed for manufacturing applications, last November.
Tim Weber, global head of 3D Materials and Advanced Applications and general manager of the Corvallis site, commented: “We are convening the world’s leading materials companies and empowering them to disrupt and innovate. It will be exciting to watch as these companies test the limits of the HP Open Platform. The ability to create new materials more quickly, and to easily iterate and improve those materials, will lower costs and accelerate the digital reinvention of manufacturing.”
The lab opening comes about a year after HP first announced its Multi Jet Fusion 3D-printing technology and its first commercial 3D printers. Geared toward replacing injection-molding machinery on factory floors, the solution is said to be able to produce higher-quality physical parts up to 10-times faster and at half the cost of earlier systems.
In Corvallis, the new lab is a high-tech research and industrial-grade production facility where material scientists design, test, and build print heads, silicon wafers, and thermal-Inkjet printer heads. The new 3D materials and applications lab will also be a proving ground for HP’s 3D print technology and its initial partners, who can use the lab space to test new, powdered raw materials to use in HP’s 3D printers.
“In order for 3D printing to go mainstream, you need the materials piece to take off with the technology or the ecosystem won’t flourish,” HP’s Weber said. “We want materials companies to work with their customers and drive innovation on our platform.”
Currently, HP is working with four of leading materials companies to co-develop new materials and refine the materials-certification process, but will continue to add partners to the program. Arkema, BASF, Evonik, and Lehman & Voss announced their commitment to the HP Open Platform, and are working on certified materials for the HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D 4200 and HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D 3200 3D printers.
HP says its Multi Jet Fusion technology “sets the stage” for future platforms that could transform color, texture, and mechanical properties at the “voxel” level – the voxel is a 3D unit of measurement that’s just about 50-times the width of a human hair. It says that manipulating printing materials could create 3D-printed objects with conductivity, flexibility, embedded data, and translucency.