HP has launched its first Jet Fusion 3D printing solutions at the RAPID 3D additive manufacturing conference in Orlando, Florida. It claims that its 3D printers are as much as 10 times faster than rival solutions and are also cheaper to run. According to HP's own PR blurb it is expected that these machines, the Jet Fusion 3D 3200 and Jet Fusion 3D 4200, will ignite "the digital furnaces of the next industrial revolution." This notion has been backed up somewhat by independent analysts who have called the HP Jet Fusion tech "a huge step forward and a game-changer".
You can see a brief but sensational overview of the capabilities of the HP Jet Fusion 3D printers in the promo video above. It provides a simple summary of the potential of the new 3D printers from HP. The 10x faster claims aren't comparisons to cheap 3D printers from Maplins, for example, but against FDM & SLS printer solutions from $100,000 USD to $300,000 USD on sale as of April 2016.
The essence of why HP's new printers might represent a break from the pack is largely down to their speed. Due to the rapid output capabilities and the quality of the objects produced HP claims that instead of just being used for rapid prototyping these printers could be used for production runs. It might not be practical to use them to replace factories but they may be a good choice for runs of up to tens of thousands of parts.
In the video above you can see how HP manages to implement 3D printing faster than rival systems. HP 3D print machines don't use lasers but a thermal inkjet array with chemical fusing agent.The multi-agent process uses print fusing and detailing agents applied in a single pass across the full working area. It's capable of printing 30 million drops/second along every single inch of bed width with "extreme precision and dimensional accuracy," says HP.
Printed flexible chainmail
HP's entry level Jet Fusion 3D 3200 will cost $130,000 when it is released next year and is about the same size as a washing machine. The larger 3D 4200 series machine will cost under $200,000 and will begin shipping to manufacturers in October. HP has started taking orders for both of these machines and companies such as Nike, BMW, Johnson & Johnson, Jabil, Siemens, Materialise, Shapeways, Autodesk, and Protolabs have all been using the printers in their own tests. To begin with the HP machines are only capable of printing with monochrome nylon material but there are plans to introduce other plastics, ceramics and even metals in later generations.