HP’s first 3D printer is the inkjet of 3D printing
HP has announced its first 3D printers, and they’re going to revolutionise 3D printing as we know it. Using a technology called Multi Jet Fusion, HP’s two new printers use techniques more similar to inkjet printers than traditional 3D printers.
Instead of laying down layers of melted plastic or solidifying resin using lasers, HP’s system first prints a layer of powder, then uses an inkjet-style array to add a chemical agent that fuses the powder to the previous layer.
Right now, the printers can only print in one colour and from a single material – thermoplastic – but HP says that its system can achieve speeds up to ten times faster than rivals and produce prototypes at up to half the cost. The firm says its printers can print at 30 million drops per second per inch – that’s 340 million across the full bed of the printer.
Before you whip out your credit card, though, you might want to save your bank balance the pain. It isn’t consumer technology HP is introducing here, but what it’s calling the “world’s first production-ready 3D printing system”. Its entry-level machine – the Jet Fusion 3D 3200 – costs a hefty €120,000 (around £92,000) and is the size of a domestic appliance.
The future where everyone has a 3D printer at home is still a long way off, then, but HP’s technology represents a big step forward. If it lives up to its evident promise, it could turn the industry on its head.