Among HP’s announcements today is its new Jet Fusion 5200 Series of 3D printers.
Now the third Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing system, the 5200 Series offers substantial differences from its predecessors. In 2016, the initial Jet Fusion 3D printers debuted. These machines have since found great success on the market, and are geared toward short runs and production. The 500/300 Series, introduced early in 2018, offer full-color 3D printing for functional prototyping.
In effectively its own class in terms of MJF is the 5200 Series.
The new systems were introduced along with several other announcements today, all revolving around digital manufacturing. As HP has been saying consistently for years now, their focus for additive manufacturing is bringing the technology to production; in their words, to “disrupt the $12 trillion global manufacturing industry.”
We always talk about how ambitious that tagline is — but I know I appreciate both the consistency in that messaging and the steady moves they make toward actualizing it. If you’re going to talk the talk, and all… and it seems that with the 5200 Series, HP is walking the production walk.
Ramon Pastor, GM and Global Head of Plastics Solutions, HP 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing, presented a virtual pre-briefing with all the news, including a dive into the new systems.
“We are in the middle of one of the most impactful revolutions industry has seen,” Pastor said, highlighting the key word: digitization.
This, he continued, is “driven by the convergence of many different technologies” such as Artificial Intelligence, the Industrial Internet of Things, Big Data / Analytics, Robotics — and 3D Printing. For 3D printing to truly take its place in this digitization revolution of Industry 4.0, it needs to be real. It needs to be an end-to-end solution.
“We think this journey we have done follows the HP way of innovating: listening, learning, then acting on these learnings. We are leveraging what we learn from customers and building data on the market,” Pastor said.
The new systems emerge from that innovation path, with usage- and need-driven improvements made upon the earlier-generation MJF technology. The keys for a full production system for 3D printing plastics included, according to HP customers:
Lower production/running costs
Driving manufacturing productivity (e.g., accuracy, consistency)
Expanding operations and materials capabilities for more options
“Production customers were also telling us they want not just a 3D printer, but an end-to-end solution,” Pastor said.
So the teams in HP’s labs got to work.
The result is the 5200 Series, which encompasses the 5200, 5210, and 5210 Pro production solutions.
But wait! There’s more: new software suites, HP 3D Process Control and HP 3D Center, as well as the new HP 3D Parts Assessment Service.
But wait! There’s more: the first MJF-friendly flexible material, Ultrasint 3D TPU01 from BASF.
Altogether, the full system brings in more automation, more machine learning, more uptime (up to 40% more productivity from previous series), and lower running costs (up to a 30% reduction from previous).
HP isn’t early-announcing; the 5200 Series solutions are available as of today. They are not announcing pricing, though. As Pastor explained it, this will be dependent on the needs of each customer, including the number of 3D printers, build units, and post-processing stations.
Speaking of post-processing, the 5200 Series also introduces something new that should be helpful for production users. A new Natural Cooling Unit can keep build units busy. Once an MJF build is completed on the 3D printer, it needs to be cooled before being unpacked and further processed. The build units themselves, which enable more productivity on the printers as they can be swapped in and out to keep printing moving, has a module on top. This can now be transferred into the cooling box, where parts can “do natural cooling in this cheap box and liberate the expensive piece of equipment that is the build unit to do more jobs,” as Pastor put it. This will be especially helpful for higher-volume users who typically have needed 3-5 built units.
Early users are reporting good results so far. Showcase applications using the new TPU material include with Vestas, which has 3D printed parts for wind turbines to protect blades from scratches; Kupol, which is using it in helmet manufacture; and internally at HP.
Within HP, early use of the 5200 Series in the company’s HP Stitch S Series printer and HP Latex Large Format printers has led already to significant savings. They report:
Around $145K savings in tooling, design prototype modifications and final parts production.
No investment in molds for the 3D printed parts, cost reduction of some parts to 93% and accelerated development cycles, reducing the time from weeks to just days.
The assembly of some parts has been reduced by 85% thanks to the design freedom that additive manufacturing allows.
Like its predecessors, the Jet Fusion 5200 Series also include a significant amount of MJF 3D printed internal parts, as well.
Other users who have tested and qualified the 5200 Series systems and TPU material include the likes of Avid Product Development, BASF, Jaguar Land Rover, Materialise, Sculpteo, and Prodartis.
Pastor provided some additional details about the new offerings under the 5200 umbrella, as well.
For the most part, these came down to the focuses of its development:
HP sounds quite confident in its abilities with the new systems. And they do sound good: enhanced process control, an enhanced (5x resolution) thermal camera to close the loop, speeding the process with higher-powered lamps that enable one pass rather than the two we’ve become used to in the MJF process, potential for higher-temperature materials due to these lamps…
The new systems, bold in white, look striking. Time of course will tell whether real-world users with real-world use cases see all these benefits come to fruition; with installations already in place and sales open now, it doesn’t sound like there’ll be long to wait. (Especially with the Digital Manufacturing Network that was among HP’s other announcements, which so far offers services to the US, Europe, and Asia.)
The debate over use of proprietary or open materials ecosystems is becoming a big topic in 3D printing.