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HP’s New Printers and Service for 3D Metal Part Production

The HP Metal Jet printer is designed for high-volume manufacturing of production-grade metal parts.

HP Metal Jet printers
HP Metal Jet printers

Through its use in printing production parts for nearly everything from headphones to hotrods, 3D printing is rapidly moving beyond prototyping applications.

Further evidence of this can be seen in HP’s recent launch of HP Metal Jet, which it claims is the world’s most advanced 3D printing technology for the high-volume manufacture of production-grade metal parts. HP said its Metal Jet printer provides up to 50 times more productivity at a significantly lower cost than other 3D printing methods, and that the technology is already in use at GKN Powder Metallurgy and Parmatech for the factory production of final parts. Companies such as Volkswagen, Wilo, Primo Medical Group and Okay Industries are already placing orders for production parts produced by the HP Metal Jet.

HP Metal Jet is a voxel-level binder jetting technology with a bed size of 430 x 320 x 200 mm. The printer will initially be used to produce stainless steel parts with isotropic mechanical properties exceeding industry standards, HP said.

In conjunction with its Metal Jet announcement, HP also launched its Metal Jet Production Service, which the company said will enable users to rapidly iterate new 3D part designs and produce final parts in volume.

HP has partnered with GKN Powder Metallurgy to use HP Metal Jet to produce functional metal parts for automotive manufacturer Volkswagen and pump manufacturer Wilo. GKN produces more than 3 billion components per year and expects to print millions of production-grade HP Metal Jet parts for its customers across industries as early as next year.

“We’re at the tipping point of an exciting new era from which there will be no return: the future of mass production with 3D printing. HP’s new Metal Jet technology enables us to expand our business by taking on new opportunities that were previously cost prohibitive,” said Peter Oberparleiter, CEO of GKN Powder Metallurgy.

According to HP, Volkswagen is integrating HP Metal Jet into its long-term design and production roadmap. Beyond Volkswagen‘s initial use of the technology to manufacture mass-customizable parts such as individualized key rings and exterior-mounted name plates, the company plans to use HP Metal Jet to produce functional parts such as gearshift knobs and mirror mounts.

“A single car consists of 6,000-8,000 different parts,“ said Martin Goede, head of technology planning and development for Volkswagen. “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.“

For Wilo, GKN is using HP Metal Jet to produce industrial parts with higher hydraulic efficiency. Wilo is looking to HP Metal Jet technology to produce parts such as impellers, diffusors and pump housings with widely variable dimensions that must withstand intense suction, pressure and temperature fluctuations.

Parmatech is also partnering with HP to use HP Metal Jet to expand mass production of Metal Jet parts for its medical industry customers, including Okay Industries and Primo Medical Group. “We are excited to deploy HP Metal Jet in our factories and begin manufacturing complex parts, such as surgical scissors and endoscopic surgical jaws, [as well as] new applications and geometries not possible with conventional metal fabrication technologies,“ said Rob Hall, president of Parmatech.

HP said that, in the first half of 2019, users will be able to upload 3D design files and receive industrial-grade parts in large quantities from its new Metal Jet Production Service. The parts will be produced in collaboration with GKN and Parmatech. For more information and to register for access to the HP Metal Jet Production Service, click here. Commercial HP Metal Jet solutions will be offered at less than $399,000 and begin shipping in 2020 to early customers, with broad availability in 2021.

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