New MJF 3D Printer Series Targets 4th Industrial Revolution
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on May 10, 2019 |

Ahead of this month’s RAPID + TCT additive manufacturing trade show, HP has introduced the latest in its series of Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printers, the HP Jet Fusion 5200 series. The news came with other announcements, including new partnerships, new materials, and the kick off of the HP Digital Manufacturing Network, meant for the production of 3D-printed parts at scale.

HP Jet Fusion 5200 3D Printing Solution. (Image courtesy of HP.)
HP Jet Fusion 5200 3D Printing Solution. (Image courtesy of HP.)

The HP Jet Fusion 5200 and 5210

The company’s latest system is not flashy in terms of introducing an entirely new process or new capabilities to the industry (such as the embedded electronics foreshadowed in 2016, etc.). Instead, the 5200 and 5210 3D printers are meant to be an improvement over prior monochromatic MJF 3D printers, the 3200, 4200 and 4210. Whereas the 400 and 500 series systems are designed for prototyping and the 4200 series is positioned for short runs, the 5200 is meant for volume production. 

HP Jet Fusion 5200 3D Printing Solution. (Image courtesy of HP.)
HP Jet Fusion 5200 3D Printing Solution. (Image courtesy of HP.)

In a presentation delivered to the press, Ramon Pastor, general manager and global head of Plastics Solutions, 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing, claimed that the new machine had overall equipment effectiveness of over 80 percent, “best in class” performance according to Pastor. He also stated that the 5200 had “dimensional accuracy, repeatability and a [process capability index] of 1.3 inches, which he suggested was “unheard of in the 3D printing industry.” These claims are difficult to validate because such industrial standards have not typically been advertised by 3D printing systems manufacturers in the past. Pastor also said that productivity has been improved by 40 percent over the previous systems with a 30 percent reduction in running costs.

These improvements are achieved in part due to new software, including 3D Process Control, which HP claims “optimizes the dimensional accuracy and consistency” of specific geometries. The software also includes machine learning that is meant to improve the printing process overtime. A second software product called 3D Center tracks data across a fleet of printers for use in management and analysis.

Along with the new printer series, the corporation has launched its 3D Parts Assessment Service as a way to examine a customer’s bill of materials for a product to determine what components are the best candidates for 3D printing.

New Material and Partnerships

The 5200 series is capable of 3D printing with BASF’s newest material designed for MJF, a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) dubbed Ultrasint. An elastomeric polymer, TPU is meant for flexible parts.

As evidence of its applications, HP and two of its customers are already using the 5200 series to 3D print TPU components. Vestas has 3D printed wind turbine clamps, which absorb impact and protect turbine blades from scratches. Kupol has produced lighter, more breathable helmets with enhanced shock absorption, compared to traditionally made helmets. HP, too, has fabricated a flexible code wheel for use with its textile and large-format printers.

Kupol sports helmet 3D printed with HP Jet Fusion 5200. (Image courtesy of HP.)
Kupol sports helmet 3D printed with HP Jet Fusion 5200. (Image courtesy of HP.)

Other customers that have already begun using the 5200 series are Avid Product Development, Jaguar Land Rover, Materialise, Sculpteo, Prodartis, Parmatech and ZiggZagg NV.

Digital Manufacturing Network and Partnerships

The Digital Manufacturing Network is basically a means of tying all of HP’s 3D printing production partners, new and old, into a single web. This includes GKN, Materialise, GoProto, Jabil and Forecast3D, among others. These AM service providers will be delivering volume metal and plastic 3D printing to the rest of the world.

Pastor emphasized the company’s goal of creating an end-to-end ecosystem for digital manufacturing that will leverage partnerships with Siemens, BASF and Materialise. BASF, for instance, will aid in material development, as well as application development. HP has integrated Materialise’s Build Processor and Magics software suites into its systems. Materialise will also be developing applications for HP’s 3D printing technology.

Siemens has integrated the 5200 series into Siemens’ Digital Enterprise software portfolio, including NX, PLM Teamcenter, Technomatix Plant Simulation, SIMATICIT and MindSphere. This means that industrial manufacturers can more readily introduce the 5200 series into existing production workflows that rely on Siemens software.

All of this is meant to build toward HP’s contribution to Industry 4.0. How it accomplishes this is through IT connected, efficient 3D printing systems that can tackle production with the same quality and repeatability as traditional mass manufacturing technology, all at a similar price point. When such quality and repeatability will be available for full-color MJF has not been announced, but the company has been on a schedule of regular upgrades and releases, so more news should be coming during formnext this winter and at RAPID again next year.

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