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HP debuts Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology

It’s been a long time coming, but HP is finally talking about 3D printing - and Multi Jet fusion looks to be a game changer

HP has been rumoured to be working on 3D printing technology for some time, but the company refused to make an announcement until it had developed something truly groundbreaking. Clearly it thinks that time is now, as HP has just revealed the Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer – which it says is ten times faster than any other 3D printing technology.

According to HP, 3D printing is currently slow, expensive to produce products and tricky to get accurate results, but its patented Multi Jet Fusion technology will change that.

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The Multi Jet fusion process has been adapted from traditional inkjet printing techniques. It works on a layer-by-layer basis, using a scanner and print bar fitted with 30,000 nozzles that apply layers of material coating. This material is then locked in place with fixing agents and a heat source, before a new layer begins.

The system applies over 350 million drops per second, with an accuracy of 21 microns – a tenfold improvement over other 3D printing techniques and superior to laser sintering system used by many industrial 3D printers today.

Compared to existing technologies like material extrusion, HP says its printing system is significantly faster; it would take 83 hours to manufacture 1,000 gears using material extrusion, but only three hours to do the same with Multi Jet Fusion.

Unfortunately for hobbyists and garage engineers, HP is focusing its efforts on industry and commercial applications for 3D printing rather than home use. Multi Jet Fusion is about as large as a workgroup printer and will likely have a price that puts it out of reach of individual users, although HP has promised it will cost less than other 3D printers in its class.

As part of its ‘blended reality’ marketing campaign, which will be kicking off to promote Multi Jet Fusion, HP also introduced Sprout – an immersive computing system that bolts a 3D camera, scanner, projector and touch-sensitive digital canvas into a high-end all-in-one desktop PC.

Both technologies are still a work in progress, with HP developing colour, elasticity and texture printing ready for a 2016 launch and pledging to continually evolve Sprout. If it succeeds, Multi Jet Fusion has real potential to revolutionise industrial production. Hopefully, it will eventually filter down into home-friendly machines too.

We’re certain to hear more a little closer to launch.