HP Blogs

A look under the hood of HP's 3D printing technology

 

It’s always fun to drive a nice car, but it seems that these days people are more concerned with the quality of the multimedia system and the accuracy of the GPS rather than what’s under the hood. This is because the automotive industry has matured and the performance and reliability of the engines is almost taken for granted. The same may NOT be said of 3D printing. In our industry, what’s “under the hood” is critical to the success of 3D printing products in both the short and long term.

 

While we don’t want to give away any “state secrets”, we’d like to share some underlying principles of HP’s Multi Jet Fusion™ technology and why we believe it can be a transformational platform. While HP Multi Jet Fusion™ is a new technology, it stands on the shoulders of decades of HP R&D investment in thermal inkjet printheads, inks, agents, precision mechanics and material science. This cutting edge technology offers a combination of speed as well as control over part and material properties beyond those found in alternative 3D printing processes.

 

The technology is built on HP’s core competency of rapidly and accurately placing precise quantities of multiple types of fluids on a variety of materials. This gives HP Multi Jet Fusion™ a versatility and quality potential that has enormous headroom. At the core, our HP Thermal Inkjet technology, is what ultimately enables 3D printing with higher qualityat a lower cost2.

 

Increased productivity can be achieved by taking advantage of the wide HP Thermal Inkjet arrays. Around this core technology we developed our proprietary synchronous architecture that images entire areas in a quick pass, resulting in significantly faster printing speeds compared to current methods. Using HP Thermal Inkjet arrays with their high number of nozzles per inch, the synchronous architecture is capable of printing over 30 million drops per second across each inch of working area.

 

As with many 3D printing processes, HP Multi Jet Fusion™ technology starts by laying down a thin layer of material in the working area. Next, the carriage containing an HP Thermal Inkjet array, precisely deposits chemical agents across the full working area. Finally, the energy, layering, and printing processes are combined into synchronized area wide sweeps, layer-by-layer, until a complete part is formed.   

 

Of course, high productivity can lead to challenges in making quality parts. For parts to work, it’s important to ensure that the material has been properly fused and that part edges are smooth and well-defined.  To achieve quality at speed, HP invented a proprietary multi-agent printing process where the agents are applied by HP Thermal Inkjet arrays. The general process for HP’s multi-agent printing process is described in this schematic.

 

Schematic of HP multi-agent printing process (cross-section views):

Technology_Blog.JPG

 

In addition to fusing and detailing agents, HP Multi Jet Fusion™ technology can also employ additional agents to transform properties at each volumetric pixel. These transforming agents, deposited point-by-point across each cross-section, allow for production of precision parts that cannot be manufactured using current methods.

 

Stay tuned to our blog for more information about HP’s Multi Jet Fusion™ technology and feel free to add your comments to this post regarding our solutions and the latest technologies in the 3D printing/AM industry.

 

 

1Based on internal HP testing of part build time, for a set of representative parts in batch process comparing HP Thermal Inkjet based Multi Jet Fusion™ technology

2HP Multi Jet Fusion™ technology leverages proprietary HP Thermal Inkjet technology, enabling lower cost systems that output similar quality to more expensive devices—such as selective laser sintering (SLS)—and speed.to the leading 3D printing technologies in the U.S.—selective laser sintering (SLS) and fused deposition modeling—as of October, 2014

 

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