HP continued its 3D printing and digital manufacturing momentum, expanding the overall market and unlocking new products and applications. The first of these is a new high reusability PP (polypropylene) material for additive manufacturing from BASF. The versatile, durable, and chemically resistant[i] material has been qualified for HP’s production-grade 3D printing systems, providing an ideal balance between performance and cost[ii]. HP also unveiled a new partnership with Oechsler, a global design and manufacturing player, to develop applications for both the new PP and HP’s broader materials portfolio. The company also presented two new customers for its Metal Jet 3D printing technology: Cobra Golf and the US Army.
“The response to the COVID-19 crisis is a watershed moment for the industry. HP and its partners have 3D printed more than 2.3 million parts to bridge supply chain gaps, enable local production, and help healthcare professionals on the front lines,” said Ramon Pastor, Interim President of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing, HP Inc. “As we navigate this new landscape, we continue to execute on our strategy and push innovative new 3D printing materials, solutions, and partnerships forward to help our customers re-open manufacturing and deliver disruptive innovation for the world’s industries.”
New PP improves sustainability
Polypropylene has been seen by HP as a possible Holy Grail for its polymer AM multijet fusion technology. That’s primarily because PP costs a lot less (up to 30% less) than PA12, its most used current material, and generally performs better in a number of criteria. As the company looks to continue to evolve its AM technology as a mass production technology, PP can make a big difference. The main problem is that it has proven a lot harder than initially expected to fine-tune materials for multijet fusion, due to the particular planar nature of the process and the difficulty of applying this to tough thermoplastics.
After a lot of work, chemical giant BASF was able to do it and now the companies are ready to present this versatile material, which is ideal for a wide range of automotive, consumer, industrial, and medical applications. The new HP 3D High Reusability PP enabled by BASF promises the same properties as commonly used PPs in injection molding, which has proven to have nearly unlimited use. With excellent chemical resistance, low moisture absorption, and long-term durability, PP is ideal for piping, fluid systems, and containers. For example, automakers will be able to use the same PP for prototyping and production of final parts found in vehicles’ interior, exterior, and under-the-hood.
Developed for HP’s Jet Fusion 5200 3D Series, the new PP delivers high productivity and minimizes waste for industrial-level manufacturing. In addition to breakthrough economics and performance, the new material helps reduce waste[iii] by enabling up to 100% reusability of surplus powder[iv].
Driving production at scale
Among the companies listed above, the newest addition is OECHSLER AG, a leading global engineering solution provider and one of the largest parts manufacturers in the additive industry. The alliance with HP will span the product lifecycle from application design to production of final parts. Oechsler is using its fleet of HP’s Jet Fusion 5200 3D Series printers and an extensive materials portfolio to help leading automakers, global consumer electronics companies, home and commercial appliances, and innovative medical device providers produce a variety of new applications.
Fast Radius, a leading manufacturing technology company, has also now qualified as a member of the HP Digital Manufacturing Network, a global community of HP production partners located in the United States, Asia, and Europe.
New metals customers
Two new customers are also embracing HP Metal Jet technology. In a clear display of the versatility of AM, one of them is Cobra Golf, a golf club manufacturer, and the other is The US Marine Corps, to produce stainless steel spare parts for its Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV).
Cobra, HP, and Parmatech are working together on a strategic, multi-year product roadmap, that leverages the design and manufacturing benefits of HP’s additive technologies to deliver golf equipment that raises performance and golfer satisfaction to new levels.
“Cobra Golf strives to deliver high-performance products that help golfers of all levels play their best and enjoy the game,” said Jose Miraflor, Vice President of Marketing, Cobra Golf. “To do that, it’s critical to use the most effective manufacturing processes to design, develop, and achieve optimal results. To continue innovating and transforming the way equipment is manufactured, we are working with HP and Parmatech to take advantage of the benefits of Metal Jet. We are seeing immediate benefits including design freedom, rapid design iteration, and high quality parts that meet our economic demands.”
On the defense applications front, about 200 AAV parts have been 3D printed to quickly provide replacement parts and steady a complex supply chain. The ability to 3D print parts required, but not available in the traditional supply chain, is helping keep the nearly 40-year-old vehicle operational with the replacement window for the fleet of AAVs still 10 to 15 years away.
Showcasing the future
Together with SME, HP is hosting a fully digital “The Next Step in Digital Manufacturing” experience on June 4 at 8 a.m. PST. Register to attend the free digital event here. The interactive webinar will feature more than 15 sessions providing deep insight from HP and its global network of partners including industrial leaders BASF, Oechsler, and dozens of customers across industries. Sessions include a keynote address from HP’s Ramon Pastor and François Minec, Managing Director, BASF Forward AM, followed by a panel discussion including Pastor, Minec, and Claudius Kozlik, CEO, Oechsler AG.
[i] Based on internal HP testing, May 2020, with tests for mechanical property retention, dimensional stability, and weight change after 7- and 30-day immersion with acids, bases, organic solvents, and aqueous solutions.
[ii] Compared to other materials in the HP 3D materials portfolio as of May 2020.
[iii] Easier to process than standard HP 3D High Reusability PA 12, providing proper fusing along with good spreadability and compatibility due to its small particle size.
[iv] Based on internal HP testing, May 2020. HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solutions using HP 3D High Reusability PP enabled by BASF provide up to 100% powder reusability ratio, producing functional parts batch after batch. For testing, the material is aged in real printing conditions, and reclaimed powder is tracked by generations (worst case for reusability). Parts are then made from each subsequent generation and tested for mechanical properties and accuracy showing no degradation of properties up to three generations of use.