May 18, 2016 | By Benedict

BMW has partnered with HP to become one of the first users of the new HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, which was made commercially available yesterday. The German luxury car manufacturer will use the new 3D printing system for serial part production and customized parts.

In what has been the biggest news in the 3D printing universe this week, HP yesterday launched its highly anticipated Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, an industrial-grade, all-in-one manufacturing system priced between $130,000 and $200,000+. The inkjet pioneer’s first 3D printer promises fast speeds, a collaborative materials platform, and voxel-level printing, but the company’s list of confirmed 3D printing partners from around the globe is just as impressive as the machine’s technical specs. The California-based successor to the now-defunct Hewlett-Packard company announced collaborations with a diverse range of companies, including sportswear behemoth Nike, healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson, and 3D printing software specialist Materialise, each of which will become an early user of the new 3D printing system.

Another new name on HP’s growing Christmas card list is BMW, an automobile manufacturer which has already outlined serious plans to incorporate 3D printing into its long-term production strategy. According to the head of BMW’s Additive Manufacturing Center Jens Ertel, BMW has been following the development of the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution from its very earliest days, and is now primed to fire up the system before anyone else: “As one of the first partners, we had the chance to see the constant evolution of the machines over time from the first prototype approximately five years ago to the market ready product that is available now,” Ertel commented.

BMW has not specified exactly what kind of parts it will produce using the HP 3D printer, but has stated that the machine will be used not only for rapid prototyping, an area in which BMW has 3D printing experience, but also for parts production. Given the 16 x 12 x 16” build volume of the HP Jet Fusion 3D printer, it seems as though the company will use the machine to produce small plastic components, and has hinted at a focus on “customization”, suggesting that rarer cars and parts may benefit most from the new technology. BMW has previously used other 3D printing methods such as selective laser melting (SLM) to create metal 3D printed parts: last year, the company showcased its 3D printed water pump wheel for DTM race cars, and has since explained how it uses the technology to create 3D printed spare parts for classic BMWs.

Whatever BMW plans to do with its new HP 3D printing technology, its role as an early user could prove pivotal in the success of HP’s latest venture. Fortunately for the printing company, BMW seems ready to take full advantage of the new system: “BMW is a pioneer and early adopter of innovative technologies in the field of additive manufacturing, especially for prototyping in concept cars and series-like approval builds,” Ertel said. “For our future roadmap toward serial part production and personal customization, we see major potential in our partnership with HP to investigate this new kind of 3D printing technology at an early stage.”

In addition to its nonstop research and development in the automobile industry, BMW has also been using 3D printing for other projects. In April, the company used 3D scanning and 3D printing technology design carbon fiber wheelchairs and 3D printed gloves for six members of Team USA, in preparation for their forthcoming participation at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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