3D printing shines when it is used to produce an item that cannot be made with injection molding, CNC machines or other traditional manufacturing techniques, according to Pete Basiliere, imaging and print services vice president at research firm Gartner.
The HP Jet Fusion 3D printer prints at the voxel (or pixel) level, meaning it can use any combination of colors to create an object.
Examples of 3D printing in manufacturing abound, "ranging from medical implants and prostheses to MakieLab's' dolls. Align Technologies makes 150,000 Invisalign dental bracesevery day and every one of them requires a custom 3D-printed mold," Basiliere said.
"Compared to high-volume manufacturing of the same part, there is a cross-over point at which it is cheaper to produce the part with traditional technology than with 3D printing," Basiliere continued. "Injection molding, for instance, has a cost curve that starts high (due to tooling costs) but declines as those and other costs are amortized over the long production run. 3D printing has essentially a horizontal cost curve since there are no tooling costs and make-ready cost is low."
By enabling more productive 3D printing, HP is lowering the horizontal line for powder bed fusion costs, Basiliere said.
About the size of two washing machines, the HP Jet Fusion printer line will have a starting price of about $130,000 for the 3200 series and in the low $200,000 range for the more sophisticated 4200 series.
The 4200 series Jet Fusion printer is 25 percent faster than the 3200 series and will be able to produce product runs of more than 50,000, Monino said. Even at that rate, the printer will be more economical to run than traditional CNC milling or injection molding manufacturing techniques, Monino said.
Once a print job is complete, the printed parts must be removed from the Jet Fusion powder bin and cleaned. Here an HP technician cleans a printed vehicle intake manifold.
Along with the base printers, the HP Jet Fusion system comes with a separate post-processing station, which removes excess powder and debris and prepare printed parts for use. The post-processing stations are sold separately from the printers and add about $15,000 to the price.
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