HP Inc has entered the 3D printing / additive manufacturing market in a big way. Introducing what it calls Blended Reality, HP Inc hopes to “enable expression at the speed of thought.” However, while the as yet unnamed machine is interesting, it won’t be available until something in 2016 as it undergoes testing with key customers through 2015.
Basic design–it laser sinters powdered plastics. No word yet on if or when it will attempt to use metal materials. Throughout the press event, though, executives stressed the idea of open source development, including materials.
The machine has a 3D print heads that operate 10,000 nozzles at one time. Two axes are used to lay powder down a layer at a time. That is, the y-axis spreads a layer, a binder is deposited, a laser sinters the powder and binder, then the x-axis spreads a layer and the process is repeated until the item is built. Most powder bed systems use one axis to spread a layer of powder for sintering. Resolution is claimed to be at 5 microns, which is impressive. The machine will print in color, and HP claims it will also deliver parts with elasticity and texture.
Between the number of nozzles and the two axes to handle the powder bed, HP Inc claims it can build objects 10 times faster than other current machines.
The price was not announced yet either, but HP is signaling that it might be around the $150,000+ or so price range.
Whether this new 3D printer will disrupt this market remains to be seen. I can other major players using multiple axes to lay down powder. Color, elasticity, and texture are already available with other manufacturers. And no doubt, others will figure out ways to handle thousands of nozzles. But HP Inc.’s 3D printer is impressive, and a good introductory product for the company as it enters this market.