Today, at the 2018 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), HP announced its HP Metal Jet, which provides 3D printing technology for the high-volume manufacturing of production-grade metal parts. The technology, which will first be offered as a service and eventually as a product promises to deliver mechanically functional final parts.
“We are in the midst of a digital industrial revolution that is transforming the $12 trillion manufacturing industry. HP has helped lead this transformation by pioneering the 3D mass production of plastic parts and we are now doubling down with HP Metal Jet, a breakthrough metals 3D printing technology,” said Dion Weisler, CEO and president, HP. “The implications are huge – the auto, industrial, and medical sectors alone produce billions of metal parts each year. HP’s new Metal Jet 3D printing platform unlocks the speed, quality, and economics to enable our customers to completely rethink the way they design, manufacture, and deliver new solutions in the digital age.”
The technology provides 50 times and lower cost greater productivity than currently competitive binder jetting and selective laser melting (SLM) metals 3D printing solutions for serial production of up to 100,000 parts, HP said. “We talk about productivity, not speed, because we have a batch process,” said Weber. “We think about how many parts you can make per hour or day, rather than low long it takes to make a part.”
HP Metal Jet, which uses similar technology to its 3D plastic printing solutions, integrates a bed size of 430 x 320 x 200mm (16.9 x 12.6 x 7.9 inches), four times the nozzle redundancy, and twice the printbars. The printer delivers 1200 x 1200 dpi addressability in a layer 50 to 100 microns thick. Printed parts require significantly less binder by weight, Weber said. Initially, the printers will be able to print stainless steel finished parts and will deliver isotropic properties that meet or exceed ASTM and MPIF Standards for tensile strength, yield strength, and elongation.
“At the end of the day manufacturing runs on economics,” said Tim Weber, global head 3D printing business for HP. “It has to be affordable. If you can build an equivalent part that is cheaper, they will switch.”
Initially, to help customers iterate new 3D part designs, produce final parts in volume, and integrate the technology into their long-term production roadmaps, HP has launched its Metal Jet Production Service. The company is partnering with GKN Powder Metallurgy to produce parts for customers in Western Europe and the United States. Currently, the company produces more than three billion components per year. The service will launch in first half of 2019, when customers will be able to upload 3D design files and have large quantities of industrial-grade parts made to order.
“Our DNA and our expertise in powder production and metal part processing using digitally networked systems will enable us to drive industrialization across the whole additive manufacturing value stream,” said Peter Oberparleiter, CEO of GKN Powder Metallurgy. “By combining the forces of HP and GKN Powder Metallurgy, we will push the productivity and capability of our customers to unprecedented levels based on the economic and technical advantages of HP Metal Jet technology.”
Aimed primarily at the automotive, industrial, and medical verticals, the company has already received order from a number of customers including, Volkswagen, Wilo, Primo Medical Group, and Okay Industries. Volkswagen, for example, is integrating HP Metal Jet into its long-term design and production roadmap. Initially, the company is using the metal printing technology to create mass-customizable parts such as individualized key rings and exterior-mounted name plates, Weber said. Next it will be integrated in functional production and eventually full production, he added.
“The auto industry is being revolutionized – not only do customers now expect personalization, but by 2025 the brands of Volkswagen Group will have introduced 80 new electric models,” said Dr. Martin Goede, head of technology planning and development at Volkswagen. “A single car consists of six thousand to eight thousand different parts. A big advantage of an additive technology like HP Metal Jet is it allows us to produce many of these parts without first having to build manufacturing tools. By reducing the cycle time for the production of parts, we can realize a higher volume of mass production very quickly.”
The commercial HP Metal Jet printers, which will begin shipping in 2020, are priced at under $399,000, the company said.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN