It was revealed that HP’s new industrial 3D printer, the Jet Fusion 3D 3200, includes a large number of 3D printed parts itself.
HP is a very new entrant to the 3D printing space, but a notable one. They’ve developed their own proprietary 3D printing process, independent of the existing companies and patents, expired or not, which they hope will blossom into a very large business for the giant company. So far, they’ve shipped several test units to beta clients for intensive testing, but as of now you cannot get one through normal purchasing means.
However, according to a story in The Guardian, the new machine includes a very large number of 3D printed parts. They explain:
Half the custom parts in HP’s first 3D printer in over a decade were themselves 3D printed, according to the company’s head of 3D printing.
It seems that the company has internally discovered what many others have realized: 3D printing is useful beyond mere single prototypes for what’s called “low volume production”.
This is the scenario where the number of units required does not justify the tooling-up cost of traditional manufacturing. In other words, if you want a million units, you can defray the cost of tooling over a million units - it disappears. But if you need only, say, 1,000 units, it’s a lot harder to distribute the cost of tooling, which can be quite expensive. Thus, there is a line below which it makes sense to 3D print the required parts, so long as they have the thermal, strength and durability characteristics required.
This has long been known by desktop 3D printer makers, who in fact have supported the RepRap project for going on ten years now. The RepRap project’s original goal was to produce a design for a 3D printer that could, as much as possible, 3D print itself.
That said, it didn’t do the assembly of those parts, you still have to do that.
This makes even more sense for HP, as they likely won’t be selling millions of their 3D printers; it’s simply a case of a smaller market for an expensive industrial machine. Therefore, it is totally reasonable for HP to 3D print many parts on their own machine.
And it doesn’t hurt the marketing message, either. The parts work!
Via The Guardian