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HP Introduces Metal 3D Printing Tech Aimed at Mass Output

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

HP Inc. today is introducing a 3D printing technology aimed for use in mass production.

The Palo Alto, CA-based company is using the IMTS trade show in Chicago, which opens today, to launch HP Metal Jet. The technology will be used to print steel parts. The idea is to use the technology to produce high-volume parts.

HP Metal Jet technology will be deployed initially with a production service where customers submit part designs to determine if they’re compatible with the technology.

“Any customer will be able to go to and submit their part,” Tim Weber, global head of HP’s metals 3D printing business, said on a webcast. Applications engineers will do evaluations to determine whether to proceed.

HP expects to begin supplying parts through the production service in the first half of next year. “We expect to produce hundreds of thousands of parts going into 2019,” he said.

HP is looking to the production service to help it perfect HP Metal Jet before selling printers directly to customers. “It’s not quite ready for prime time,” Weber said.

The company plans to produce HP Metal Jet printers for sale on a limited basis in 2020 and ramp up to “mass availability” in 2021, Weber said.

HP Partnerships

HP also has established partnerships with GKN Powder Metallurgy and Parmatech. GKN will deploy the technology at its factories to service customers such as automaker Volkswagen AG. Parmatech will use HP Metal Jet to make parts for customers including makers of medical devices.

Volkswagen wants to use HP Metal Jet in producing electric vehicles in 2020s, according to HP. The auto industry is looking to expand output of electric and hyrbrid vehicles to reduce emissions.

The HP Metal Jet printer has a bed size of 430 x 320 x 200 mm. The company said on the webcast that the printers will cost about $399,000 each.

“We feel pretty good about the ante to get in from a mass production standpoint,” Weber said.

Larger industrial companies such as HP and General Electric Co. (Boston) have increased their presence in additive manufacturing, where parts are printed layer by layer from a digital designs. Both have said 3D printing stands to grow rapidly as industry moves from mass production to more production by demand.

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