3D Hubs Takes HP’s MJF Online
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on June 28, 2017 | 3185 views

Since the launch of Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) at RAPID last year, HP has found a steady stream of customers for its unique technology. Included among them are service bureaus, such as Shapeways and Forecast3D. Now, 3D Hubs, a network of 3D printing services, claims to be the first online platform to offer MJF 3D printing services.

Through its worldwide network of individual 3D printing hubs, 3D Hubs is offering MJF 3D printing from providers in Europe and North America, specifically Kurz in Germany, My3DPart in France, 3iD in Belgium and GoProto in the United States. That these service bureaus would take to MJF so quickly reflects the possibilities of HP’s technology for batch production.

A part 3D printed via MJF and its price estimate through 3D Hubs. (Image courtesy of 3D Hubs.)
A part 3D printed via MJF and its price estimate through 3D Hubs. (Image courtesy of 3D Hubs.)

HP suggests unprecedented speed and quality for MJF 3D printing in that it is 10 times faster than selective laser sintering (SLS)—the workhorse of most 3D printing service bureaus—at half the cost. If the technology can live up to HP’s claims, then it makes sense for businesses like those listed in the 3D Hubs network to take the technology on to produce large runs of orders.

Filemon Schoffer, chief marketing officer for 3D Hubs, spoke to this point. “3D printing, at its core, is still a tool for prototyping and small production runs—anything from 1 to 500 parts,” Schoffer said. “This is where 3D printing is most price competitive, with much faster turnarounds than traditional manufacturing methods. HP’s latest technology opens up interesting avenues as a potentially lower-cost alternative to using SLS technology to 3D print functional parts, as well as production runs for over 500 parts. It is important to highlight though that’s it’s still early in terms of development and hard to specify expectations.”

That same part undergoing minor, manual strain. (Image courtesy of 3D Hubs.)
That same part undergoing minor, manual strain. (Image courtesy of 3D Hubs.)

Currently, the only material available is polyamide 12 powder in grey and black; however, as new materials are made available for MJF, they will likely be available through 3D Hubs as well. This is one of the most unique features of 3D Hubs. As new technologies are developed and adopted, individual 3D printing users worldwide may onboard them onto the 3D Hubs network.

As George Fisher-Wilson, communications manager at 3D Hubs, told ENGINEERING.com, “The fact that we can release new technologies faster than centralized, ‘old school’ service providers shows a unique strength of 3D Hubs, where we only need a small number of high-quality suppliers around the world to offer a new technology. This is thanks to our community of agile and innovative hubs bringing the technology online to the public faster than anyone else.”

This is an exciting prospect, as numerous new technologies have been released or unveiled in the past two years alone. It will be interesting to see when metal 3D printing technologies like those from Markforged and Desktop Metal begin entering the marketplace if they join the 3D Hubs network.

For now, it’s possible to test out MJF 3D printing via 3D Hubs with a 10 percent discount code, “3DHUBSMJF,” until July 6 at this link on the 3D Hubs website.


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