With the launch of its Jet Fusion 4200 3D Printing Solution in May, HP re-defined industrial 3D printing systems. The HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 jumps ahead of traditional 3D printers, boasting the ability to rapidly produce functional prototypes as well as production-ready components and objects -- at a decidedly lower cost. Leading 3D printing software and services company Materialise NV, is one of the first customers in the world to install the printer in its continued collaboration with HP to accelerate the widespread use of 3D printing in scaled-up manufacturing.
Scott Schiller, Vice President of Market Development for the HP 3D Multi Jet Fusion business, discussed the future of 3D printing with Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen (pictured left).
Scott: What does the next industrial revolution look like, and how significant is the HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Printing Solution in realizing that vision?
Fried: The next industrial revolution is no longer something that is shaping up to take place. It is already happening. Large industrial players such as Airbus, GE, Deutsche Bahn, and naturally, HP, are educating entire engineering forces in how they can use additive manufacturing to realize a new generation of products.
Good surface quality, in combination with the color printing of durable parts, can seriously enhance the market potential of 3D printing technologies. HP’s team is currently developing a unique technological base that can make this happen.
Scott: The HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Printer prints up to 10 times faster than FDM and SLS printer solutions and at half their cost, with incredible detail. What effect will that have as Materialise accelerates into full-scale manufacturing?
Fried: The situation at Materialise is like others already participating in the new industrial revolution. We already have several dedicated production lines for multiple product categories. These include medical implants, orthopedic instruments, aerospace components, insoles, eyewear, and more.
Demand for these lines is increasing, and the HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Printer holds the promise of making it more cost-efficient to fulfill these demands. We look forward to incorporating this technology into the Materialise Manufacturing offering.
Scott: What challenges come with adapting prototype and production manufacturing to 3D printing environments? How will HP and Materialise together help overcome those challenges?
Fried: With such highly productive and powerful 3D printers, the challenge for users shifts away from the printing process itself and more towards data preparation and the structured post-processing of the parts, both of which are key to making businesses cost-effective and profitable. Materialise is proud to deliver the tools, in the form of an integrated backbone of software and solutions, that turn a printer into a true production process. It is this full solution that we will provide together with HP by integrating the Jet Fusion 4200 Printer into our manufacturing offering.
Scott: How important is the HP Open Platform for materials innovation to driving adoption of 3D manufacturing?
Fried: Materialise and HP share the same strong belief in the power of Open Platforms and collaboration. Openness and partnerships are part of Materialise’s DNA, and the key to some of our greatest advances. Moving forward, in order to keep up with the demands of high-end manufacturing environments, both 3D printing processes and software have to fit into very complex, disciplined ecosystems. For that, you need systems that are open, agnostic and collaboration-ready.
Scott: How will bringing Materialise’s software together with the HP Jet Fusion 4200 drive up the number of applications that can benefit from 3D printing?
Fried: High-quality surface finish, colors, unique labeling options, high-density production, quality control all along the line – these are critical elements for many applications of 3D printing. However, each of these adds to the already huge data size and processing complexities that have to be handled. Materialise is an expert in this data handling, and HP -- with its Multi Jet Fusion technology -- can turn this data into high-detailed reality. These combined strengths will make an ever-growing number of functional, but also aesthetic, components possible for medical, footwear, fashion, wearable, automotive, and aerospace industries … and I could go on.
Scott: Did anything surprise you about working with HP’s 3D team?
Fried: The introduction of such a complicated system is always accompanied by challenges. It was a positive surprise to see that such high-level executives, especially in a company as large as HP, were always readily available for our team here at Materialise to help tackle challenges as they arose.