Oct 13, 2016 | By Alec

Remember HP’s new industrial 3D printer, the Jet Fusion 3D printer? It created huge buzz in the 3D printing world when first unveiled back in May of this year, due to some revolutionary abilities. Up to ten times faster than competing machines and capable of cutting down production costs by up to 50 percent, the Jet Fusion 3D Printer could have the power to change industrial 3D printing as we know it.

It was an immediate hit with industry partners upon its release, and companies like BMW quickly adopted it for serial part production. But the Jet Fusion 3D printer’s quirkiest characteristic has only just been revealed by HP’s head of 3D printing Stephen Nigro. As he explained in an interview, about half of all the plastic components and panels used on the two Jet Fusion 3D printer models, the Jet Fusion 3200 and the Jet Fusion 4200, were actually 3D printed using that same technology.

This is much more than just a cool bonus feature, as it says a lot about the quality of the parts involved. Of course, DIY RepRap 3D printer makers  pride themselves on manufacturing every possible part on a desktop 3D printer, but this does not necessarily improve printer's quality or reliability. When it comes to a 3D printer that costs about $130,000, however, the quality of the machine is understandably paramount. In that respect, HP’s decision to 3D print a significant part of the printer's components underlines just how reliable and high quality their technology actually is – and how cost effective.

The latter is made clear by Nigro, who insisted that this was a purely economic decision. As he revealed, any product batch consisting of fewer than 55,000 pieces can actually be cheaper to produce through 3D printing than through molding. “The reason we’re doing it is not because we can, although that certainly would be one reason. It’s because we should: it actually makes economic sense for us to print those parts; we can actually save money,” he revealed.

Of course this economic perspective also benefits from the fact that industrial 3D printers are manufactured in comparatively small quantities – making 3D printing a very attractive option. Understandably, this is much less the case with desktop 3D printers.

Interestingly, 3D printing the machine's components wasn’t the initial plan, but during the development process, HP was simply surprised by how effective their own production cycle was. “We had this goal of like, ‘OK, we want to have some of the parts in this printer be printed by the printer itself’, because we thought it would be cool to have the printer print itself,” Nigro recalls. “We honestly thought it would be probably five or six parts. And it wasn’t until we got pretty close to the introduction, we had handed over to our supply chain team who were looking at the economics and they came back and said ‘yeah, about half the parts, we’re going to print’.”

Oviously, this is also a fantastic selling point for a 3D printer which has already generated lots of buzz. HP’s own proprietary 3D printing process is blossoming into a significant business success, and even drew attention from 3D printing giants Stratasys and 3D Systems. HP’s Fusion Jet technology is quickly taking over a segment of the industrial market, and you only have to take one look at their 3D printers to see that they work as advertised.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer Company

 

 

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