HP Opens 3D-Printer Lab for Developing New 3D-Printer Materials

Partnerships key to market growth

Faced with such a complex undertaking, HP says it’s looking to partners for help. When companies develop new products, they typically engage with materials suppliers for the testing and prototyping of specialty applications. There are thousands of them, many of which are proprietary formulations.

According to Weber, it’s a win-win: partners can solve customer problems using 3D-printing technology, while HP expands its materials library. Partners send engineers to work in the lab on HP’s tools and printers, who will return with what they’ve learned to develop materials in more rapid development cycles.

“There’s no way that HP itself can develop and certify the some 30,000 materials made by all the materials companies in the world,” said Weber. “Working together in a hands-on, agile development environment enables us to test and certify materials that are compatible with our Multi Jet Fusion technology.”

Ultimately, HP hopes to open a materials platform so that customers can have an experience similar to an app store, where they have a variety of certified materials to choose from. In October, Evonik became the first partner to announce a certified material.

But materials are just one piece of the 3D-printing challenge. According to Weber, it’s about changing more than 70 years of entrenched business practices and behavior in the manufacturing industry. Driving materials-innovation enables HP to demonstrate that 3D printing can replace the traditional manufacturing model by lowering costs and meeting or exceeding existing standards for quality and reliability.

“We must rethink the entire life-cycle of a manufactured part, from design to delivery, said Weber.

For more information on the HP 3D Open Materials and Applications Lab, visit HP here, and for more information on HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers, visit HP here.

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