The key to a new Hewlett-Packard high speed printer is a very intricate injection molded ceramic part. As part of a $1.4 billion, five-year research project, HP design engineers approached a British ceramics company, called Morgan Advanced Ceramics, and asked if it could develop a piece that features 3,900 print nozzles. HP eyed ceramic because of its strength and hardness. Until recent years, ceramic was never a top choice for intricate, small parts because of the poor flowability of common ceramic compositions, and the expense of secondary machining. Morgan is now in full production of the component, which is part of a built-from-the-ground-up piece that rapidly distributes ink to paper, allowing full-color prints in 14 seconds.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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