Video: HP's new Multi Jet printer series will 3D-print fully functional, color parts
HP on Monday rolled out a fast prototyping 3D printer that starts in the $50,000 range and features engineering grade full color parts. The move illustrates how HP plans to use advances in materials to advance its 3D printing efforts.
The company's rollout is designed to open up 3D printing to smaller enterprises, design teams within larger companies and universities. Stephen Nigro, president of HP's 3D printing unit, said the lower-cost 3D printers can appeal to smaller companies. "When we look at utilizing 3D printing we have a hurdle: It has to make economic and business sense to do," he said.
The 3D printers, new Jet Fusion 300/500 series, runs on the same Multi Jet Fusion platform as its industrial HP Jet Fusion 3200/4200/4210 products. HP claims its Fusion 300/500 series 3D printers are the first to produce functional parts in full color, black or white with voxel control.
A voxel is akin to a pixel, but represents a value on a 3D grid. By controlling the voxel upfront, HP can set properties such as color and print parts that are already assembled.
HP is betting that its ability to control part properties at the individual voxel level will have applications in healthcare, automotive, consumer goods and entrepreneurs. Materials innovation is a key battleground among 3D printing and additive manufacturing vendors.
The company is already looking to seed co-development of applications with partners such as Phoenix Children's Hospital, Yazaki Corp. and Youngstown State University.
Among the key points:
Jet Fusion 300/500 series supports three color file formats (OBJ, VRML and 3MF).
The Jet Fusion 340 (black or white)/380 (color) is designed for customers who print fewer parts per build.
Jet Fusion 540 (black or white)/580 (color) is for larger parts and heavier production.
The new printers launch with a new material called HP PA Color Boost (CB) 12, which is similar to materials used by HP's industrial products.
The Jet Fusion 300/500 series of 3D printers is available for order now with shipments in the second half of 2018.
For distribution, HP is expanding its reseller program with a specializations for 3D printing.
In addition, HP is collaborating with Dassault Systemes, a 3D design software maker. The two companies will optimize Dassault's Solidworks 3D design software and engineering applications for HP's Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing lineup.
Material development kits
The crux of HP's effort revolves around what it calls an open materials strategy. Nigro noted that HP's push to partner with multiple companies on materials.
"The world thinks about platforms and that's what's happening today," said Nigro. "What we're doing is partnering on open material. By partnering anyone that wants to have a material development kit is able to."
There is some debate about an open material strategy. For instance, 3D Systems CEO Vyomesh Joshi said his company is partnering and innovating with materials too, but is betting the advances will largely be proprietary for the foreseeable future.