Building on its open platform vision, HP took the wraps off its state-of-the-art laboratory to help companies develop, test, certify and deliver the next generation of materials and applications for 3D printing. Located in Corvallis, Oregon, the new HP 3D Open Platform Materials and Applications Lab will offer partners a range of equipment and in-house expertise to accelerate materials and applications innovation, which is critical to quickening the evolution and adoption of 3D printing technologies.
Corvallis, Ore., is home to some of the most advanced 3D printing technologies being developed by HP with the end goal of fostering a partner-driven, open materials marketplace to accelerate the creation of production-ready 3D printed parts.
The lab occupies a 3,500 square-foot space where 3D materials partners can jumpstart product development, test new materials and get real-time feedback from engineers.
The focus on cross-industry collaboration at the new lab is meant to spur innovation and speed time-to-market (and crack into the $12 trillion manufacturing industry) with new 3D printing materials and applications that are reliable, safe and affordable.
The new 3D materials and applications lab will be a proving ground for HP’s 3D print technology and its initial partners, who can use the lab space to test new, powdered raw materials to use in HP’s 3D printers.
“In order for 3D printing to go mainstream, you need the materials piece to take off with the technology or the ecosystem won’t flourish,” said Tim Weber, global head, 3D Materials and Advanced Applications at HP. “We want materials companies to work with their customers and drive innovation on our platform.”
Currently, HP is working with four of the world’s leading materials companies to co-develop new materials and refine the materials certification process, but will continue to add partners to the program. Arkema, BASF, Evonik and Lehman & Voss announced their commitment to the HP Open Platform and are working on certified materials for the HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 and HP Jet Fusion 3D 3200 printers.
HP Multi Jet Fusion technology sets the stage for future platforms that could transform color, texture, and mechanical properties at the “voxel” level—a 3D unit of measure that’s just about 50 times the width of a human hair. Manipulating printing materials could create 3D printed objects with conductivity, flexibility, embedded data, and translucency—and that’s just the beginning.
Faced with such a complex undertaking, HP is looking to partners for help. When companies develop new products, they typically engage with materials suppliers for the testing and prototyping of specialty applications. There are thousands of them, many of which are proprietary formulations.
According to Weber, it’s a win-win: partners can solve customer problems using 3D print technology while HP expands its materials library. Partners send engineers to work in the lab on HP’s tools and printers, who will return with what they learned to iterate on the materials in rapid development cycles.
“There’s no way that HP itself can develop and certify the some 30,000 materials made by all the materials companies in the world,” said Weber. “Working together in a hands-on, agile development environment enables us to test and certify materials that are compatible with our Multi Jet Fusion technology.”
HP aspires ultimately to open a materials platform so customers can have an experience similar to an app store, where they have variety of certified materials to choose from. In October, Evonik became the first partner to announce a certified material.
But materials are just one piece of the 3D printing puzzle, according to Weber, it’s about changing more than 70 years of entrenched business practices and behavior in the manufacturing industry. Driving materials innovation enables HP to demonstrate that 3D printing can replace this traditional manufacturing model by lowering costs and meeting or exceeding existing standards for quality and reliability.
“We must rethink the entire lifecycle of a manufactured part, from design to delivery, he said.