HP (NYSE: HPQ) unveiled its first broadly available metal 3D printer, the Metal Jet S100, at IMTS earlier this year. At Formnext 2022, the company is building on that development by showcasing parts made with the technology for farm and construction equipment giant John Deere. More than that, HP is also unveiling a new multi jet fusion (MJF) 3D printer for white parts at the event.
John Deere’s Metal 3D Printed Parts
John Deere (NYSE: DE) has been exploring the use of additive manufacturing (AM) for some time. As competitors, like Caterpillar, were more public about deploying the technology, there were rumblings that John Deere had used it here and there, even for end parts. Now is the first time that the company has let the world in on its real world application of AM. Specifically, the ~$40 billion heavy equipment maker enlisted Metal Jet service provider GKN Additive to 3D print valves for its tractor fuel system.
The parts are said to cut production time while also withstanding the harsh environmental circumstances that these machines are exposed to. It has also been announced that the company is using MJF for prototyping and design work for parts such as windshield holders that have introduced a number of benefits. This includes cutting pre-assembly time from 30 to 10 days, delivery times by up to 10 weeks, and production costs by between 20 to 25 percent.
“Our focus on innovation and sustainability is at the core of everything we do for our customers,” said Dr. Jochen Müller, Manager Global Digital Engineering at John Deere. “We are proud to be among the first in the agricultural industry to leverage the benefits 3D printing for both prototyping and final parts production. Leveraging industrial 3D printing platforms for polymers and metals, we are discovering opportunities to deliver more efficient, reliable, and sustainable equipment.”
New Jet Fusion 5400 Series Unveiled with White Parts
HP also unveiled the start of a new MJF line, the HP Jet Fusion 5400 Series, which was kicked off with the HP Jet Fusion 5420W Solution, for 3D printing white parts. Traditionally, MJF parts have been black due to the nature of the process. An infrared-absorbent black ink makes it possible for the parts to be fused by the printer’s infrared lamps. To achieve a color like white, the new machine likely uses a clear infrared-reactive coating.
I say this because HP’s full-color MJF technology relied on this technique. Interestingly, the company discontinued its full-color system, which some in the industry have seen as a confusing move, given that only HP has been able to achieve large-scale production of industrial quality full-color parts with 3D printing. Perhaps, the company will introduce a new 5400 3D printer will feature full-color capabilities.
In the mean time, customers can use products like those offered by DyeMansion to dye the white parts to create vibrantly colored, 3D printed objects. This is a long-time in the making for the 3D printer manufacturer. Early customers for the new 5420W printer include DI Labs, Prototal Industries, and Weerg. Jan Löfving, CEO of Prototal Industries, said of the product:
“HP continues to provide us with the advancements we need to push the boundaries of additive manufacturing and produce the final parts our customers need. Beyond the industrial grade production HP delivers, we are seeing immediate interest in the new white applications made possible by the latest addition to HP’s Multi Jet Fusion family. As a proud Digital Manufacturing Partner in HP’s DMN, we are equipped to take on bold, innovative projects and help companies get the most value out of AM production.”
Other Formnext Announcements
As of Formnext 2022, HP has announced that its MJF technology has been used to produce over 170 million parts so far, with more than 70 million made in just the last year. The company is showcasing some of these items at the 2022 event.
For instance, 60,000 spoiler closeout seals were made for GM by GKN Forecast 3D using BASF ULTRASINT TPU01. Thanks to vapor polishing and drying techniques from AMT, the parts took half the time to make, while eliminating the need for post-print dying. Additionally, Smith I/O MAG Imprint 3D Goggles are being made with MJF for custom-fit.
HP also announced a partnership with long-time collaborator AMT to offer “seamless, fully automated” post processing support for 3D printing production. The two firms are offering customers a diverse array of automation solutions to tackle the complete MJF manufacturing workflow, such as unpacking, cleaning, surface finishing, coloring, sporting and quality control. As the first user, Oechsler is showcasing the results of the collaboration. The German manufacturer is also a new addition to HP’s Digital Manufacturing Network (DMN).
“At Oechsler, we choose to work with companies who have a shared vision of working together to deliver optimal outcomes. HP and AMT building a comprehensive approach from printing to an integrated post processing solution is a critical step in the adoption of additive manufacturing at scale,” said Matthias Weisskopf, General Manager of OECHSLER Motion.
HP has also pointed out that its relationship with AMT is not exclusive, so that customers can also rely on post-processing and automation solutions from such firms as AM Flow, DyeMansion, and Rösler Group AM Solutions.
Finally, via Arkema’s Virtucycle Program, HP is allowing customers to sell used PA11 and PA12 powders, and printed parts. This is in contrast to the current disposal practice that ultimately results in landfilling and burning.
For those at Formnext, all of this is on display at the HP booth at Formnext (Hall 12.1; booth D59).
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