HP opens up on future plans, including a new sub $100k 3D printer and importance of the Build Unit

Published 17 November 2017

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with: hardware, 3d printing, manufacturing, hp, materials, metals

For the production printers, the future of its productivity might lie in the hands of the build unit

While much of HPs news from Formnext was already out in the open a week before, a few little snippets came to light on the show floor.

Most interestingly was the news that a smaller MultiJet Fusion printer, priced under $100,000 will be revealed in 2018 to target the functional prototyping market, and no doubt to push the adoption of the bigger manufacturing class machines as a result.

Secondly was a more immediate look into the existing machines, and the 4210 upgrade, which sees software upgrades, as well as hardware changes to the processing station and a few of the printer’s components - yet as the materials progress the biggest changes will come to the interchangeable powdbed build units.

Ramon Pastor, head of HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, showed us that the MJF 3D printer body is ‘material agnostic’ - no powders touch the machine - while all materials handling duties are performed by the removable build unit.

While the binder fluids will no doubt differ for some applications (colour and metals stand out), potentially, this is an incredibly clever means of increasing manufacturing versatility on a shop floor - once all the 3D printers in a facility are formatted, the materials swap outs can be swift and the user can move any job - using PA11, PA12 or Polypropylene and beyond - onto any printer with the preparation already done via the build unit, ready to print.

Finally, HP confirmed its drive to have production ready colour printing (2018) and metals (2019) - with examples of both on show at Formnext.

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