HP: What Sets Our 3D Printers Apart from Competitors – Speed, Strength, and More

3d printed parts

HP is set to begin shipping its first 3D printers – the HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 and Jet Fusion 3D 3200 – later this year and in 2017, respectively, and in an interesting blog post, laid out what it believes sets its 3D-printing technology apart from that of competitors.

Both 3D printers are aimed at the $12 trillion global manufacturing market, not consumer 3D printing, and are said to be suitable for producing not just prototypes, but functional final parts – in other words, for true manufacturing.

HP says its 3D printers offer five distinct advantages:

  • 3D printing that’s up to 10 times faster than competitors, with 30 million drops per second deposited across each inch of the working area.
  • Lower cost per part, enabling partners, for instance, to engage in short-run manufacturing.
  • Exceptional service via HP’s long-established service network. Service will include HP installation, training, support services, and applications expertise, as well as: next-business-day onsite support and issue resolution, and next-business-day spare-parts availability.
  • An open platform, as partners will be able to advance the development of materials via the HP Multi Jet Fusion Open Platform.
  • Resellers, as HP says it’s building a world-class reseller network of 3D professional resellers.
3d printed chain link

HP also states that its 3D-printing process results in parts with exceptional strength and durability. In the photo above, a chain link printed by an HP 3D printer is used to support lifting a card off the ground. See the video here: http://www8.hp.com/us/en/printers/3d-printers.html.

The Voxel and 3D Printing

pixel versus voxel

Key to HP’s 3D-printing technology is the voxel, which is to 3D printing what the pixel is to traditional 2D printing. In 2D printing on paper and other substrates, a pixel is a two-dimensional drop of ink or toner ejected or fused to paper and other substrates to form an image or text.

A voxel, on the other hand, is three-dimensional like a tiny square box, and as millions of pixels on paper make up text and images, millions of voxels are 3D-printed to make up objects. HP says that, in the future, it’ll be able to select the color, density, or material at the voxel level, so that, for instance, it’ll be able to print parts that are part rigid and part bendable, and ultimately, could even make every voxel a different color.

In contrast, today’s 3D-printing technology is limited to a small palette of materials, mainly engineering-grade, multi-purpose thermoplastics. But HP is looking at new materials using color, elastomers, ceramics, and more, all of which would substantially increase the type and range of 3D-printed parts that customers could produce.

HP 3D printers

Real-World 3D-Printing Applications

HP’s current 3D-printing customers include a host of big names – Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Jabil, Siemens, and more – all of which are working with HP on applying its 3D-printing technology to its products for both prototyping and functional parts. Shapeways, for instance, is already using HP 3D-printing technology to print its customers’ 3D designs, while BMW is exploring using the technology in both prototyping concept cars, and for serial part production and personal customization.

For more information on HP’s 3D-printing technology, visit HP here.

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