After a year or so of missteps, false starts, retractions, and postponements, inkjet office printer giant Hewlett-Packard has finally revealed just what it plans to do in 3D printing.
The apparent hesitation and late-to-the-party foot dragging of the company that invented digital inkjet printing (along with Epson and Canon) surprised a lot of people in the 3D-printing industry. As the market exploded over the last couple of years, many have hypothesized that HP would be entering it any day. Perhaps the company was waiting until after it figured out how and when it would divide itself in half, which it announced earlier this month.
Not surprisingly, HP's Multi Jet Fusion printers, which won't roll out until 2016, will be based on the company's thermal inkjet technology. The technology will use imaging of a wider build envelope, up to 40 inches, to boost speeds 10 times over existing SLS and FDM part build times. Arrays of thermal inkjets will apply liquid agents to increase uniform part strength.
Parts will also have greater accuracy and finer details, while part and material properties will be much more customizable. Initially, plastics will be printed, but HP is also investigating metals and ceramics. HP says its 3D printers will also reduce energy consumption, running time and waste to improve their economics, as well as using a new file format. Until broader distribution, HP will be working out the kinks with certain partners and customers.
The company also announced the Sprout 3D Immersive Computing workstation, which integrates a scanner, 3D depth sensor, camera, projector, touchscreen display, and touch-sensitive mat. The Sprout is the first product in HP's "Blended Reality" ecosystem.
Here's the full story on our sister pub EETimes, including photos of printed objects and a link to a whitepaper about Multi Jet Fusion printers: HP Tiptoes Into 3D Printers