Next in its vision of industrial-scale 3D printing that can rival injection molding, HP recently launched its 3D Open Materials and Application Lab at its sprawling facility in Corvallis, OR. HP’s first step in their vision came last year when it unveiled the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, which prints quality parts up to 10 times faster and at half the cost of current 3D printers, according to HP.
The Corvallis facility was the birthplace of thermal inkjet technology some 30 years ago, and remains a hotbed of innovation, where material scientists and engineers design, test and build printheads, silicon wafers and thermal inkjet printer heads. Now, all eyes are on the capabilities of its additive manufacturing system and the development of compatible materials.
Multi Jet Fusion is the culmination of decades of research. Multi Jet Fusion technology has the potential to compete with conventional plastics processing techniques, and the ability to engineer materials at the voxel level. HP describes the voxel as a volumetric pixel. With Multi Jet Fusion, HP can manipulate materials at the voxel level by dosing liquid functional agents in the powder bed as the parts are built.
After the powder is spread during the Multi Jet Fusion process, they pattern with the liquid fusing agent. At that point in time, they can can also decide which voxel they want to address with additional agents—color, plasticizer, an electrical component or something else—resulting in a part that is built up not just with its mechanical properties but other physical properties.
The possibilities are tremendous, but the problem remains that only a handful of materials are suitable for 3D printing compared with the thousands of options that are available to injection molders. HP’s open materials platform and the new lab are designed to address this.
>> Read more by Norbert Sparrow, Design News, March 20, 2017