HP takes orders for new 3D printers, claims it will revolutionise manufacturing

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HP has unveiled its two 3D printing units and begun taking orders, nearly two years after their announcement, with the claim that these can be competitive against traditional manufacturing methods.

engineering.com and others report that the machines work by fusing rather than sintering layers of powder. The process is compared to binder jetting, with the x arm depositing a layer of thermoplastic powder and a y arm laying down binding agent.

Infrared lamps them heat the powder, with the fusing agent absorbing this and forming a layer of the part.

HP’s chief executive Don Weisler pitched the machines as having the potential to disrupt manufacturing, which had been relatively unchanged since the invention of the assembly line.

“It enables organisations to bring their manufacturing much closer to where their customers take place with breakthrough economics,” he told CNBC.

“What we are doing here is the first commercial short-run productions systems.”

Announced in October 2014, the HP Multi Jet Fusion process is claimed by the company to be ten times faster than selective laser sintering. The two models, named Jet Fusion 3D 3200 and Jet Fusion 3D 4200 announced both have a build volume of 406 cm x 305 cm x 406 cm.

The latter is being pushed as a manufacturing-grade machine, with 25 per cent faster printing time and five times faster cooling time, according to engineering.com.

Technology Review notes that, like Carbon’s new 3D printers, the Fusion units are being put forward as competitive with injection moulding processes.

Whether they will or won’t displace traditional manufacturing methods remains to be seen.

Shipping of the units begins in October.