Tag Archives: 3D print services

Driving 3D printing innovation forward, voxel by voxel

Printing has progressed leaps and bounds since HP unveiled the DeskJet in 1984—the first mass-market inkjet printer. Back then, the DeskJet offered continuous plain-paper printing and higher print quality at an affordable price. This was revolutionary, because it redefined the possibilities of home printing.

Nearly 30 years later, HP still pushes the envelope. By researching and leveraging decades of expertise in precision mechanics, microfluidics, and materials sciences, HP drives 3D printing innovation forward. “We want to change how the world designs,” Steve Nigro, president of 3D printing at HP, told Wired.

In the mind of a 3D printer

When thinking about 3D printing innovation, images of prosthetic limbs, beautiful statues, and on-demand homes come to mind. Each of these applications proves transformative in its own way. While it’s exciting to think about constructing livable houses with the touch of a few buttons, the reality is that 3D printing involves huge amounts of work. A lot (to put it mildly) goes into crafting the 3D printers, not to mention the software that supports them and the prototypes for functional parts. The technical specs are important, but what really makes the product stand out is what’s in the “mind” of the 3D printer.

The first commercial 3D printing solution based on an open platform, the HP Jet Fusion is really an ecosystem of parts and services. Enabled by HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, the solution will create the highest quality physical parts, produce parts up to 10 times faster, and at half the cost of current 3D print systems. HP developed a synchronous architecture around its core Thermal Inkjet arrays, which prints more than 30 million drops per second across each inch of working area.

“While HP Multi Jet Fusion is a new technology, it stands on the shoulders of decades of HP R&D investment in thermal inkjet printheads, inks, agents, precision mechanics, and material science,” said Scott Schiller, VP, global head of market development at HP 3D Printing. “The technology is built on HP’s core competency of rapidly and accurately placing precise quantities of multiple types of fluids on a variety of materials.”

The HP Jet Fusion is also designed to maximize productivity. Like any good assistant, the printer’s “mind” is focused on enabling you to get as much done as efficiently as possible. The Processing Station’s automated material mixing and leading systems streamline workflow and labour time. The Build Unit can be moved for cooling once the job is done, which allows for a continuous printing process. Furthermore, accurate thermal control of every layer in the printer is smart enough to make predictive corrections, which optimizes mechanical properties.

It’s not uncommon in manufacturing for high productivity to cause dips in quality. To prevent this, HP invented a proprietary multi-agent printing process, where the agents are applied by Thermal Inkjet arrays. This ensures the material is properly fused and that part edges are smooth and well-defined. Fusing and detailing agents deliver fine details and dimensional accuracy. The mind of these printers is precise and committed to perfection. All these innovations mean the HP Jet Fusion can control part properties voxel by voxel, addressing more than 340 million voxels per second.

3D printing innovation

Reinventing 3D printing means delivering an integrated, end-to-end solution that overcomes pain points in existing 3D-printing processes. Ultimately, 3D printers are only as good as the information they receive and the experts who manage them, so the technology needs to be easy to use to reach its full potential.

HP’s 3D printer comes with complete, user-friendly, in-box software solutions that streamline the workflow from design to final parts. It removes existing 3D-file format challenges and offers print preparation and job monitoring through accurate build-time estimations, automated packing, and embedded quality checks. An enclosed, automated processing station provides a cleaner materials-loading and mixing experience. It also includes a fast-cooling module and an enclosed unpacking and material-collection system for cleaner extraction.

The HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution is geared toward the future—toward progress. To this end, HP is offering the unprecedented HP Open Platform to reduce 3D printing adoption barriers by encouraging exploration—improving materials diversity, the range of applications, and performance, while driving costs down.

The possibilities of what 3D printers can do are vast—almost difficult to comprehend. Fusing parts together at such a small level gives them tremendous strength. With the Internet of Things, products won’t only connect to each other; they’ll also connect to every part of every product. A 3D-printed medical implant could even have an embedded wireless RFID chip that provides feedback to physicians on the product and the patient. And this is just the beginning! Buckle up, and prepare for the bright and promising future of 3D printing.

4 tech trends supporting rapid urbanization—doing more with less

Society is congregating into more densely populated areas. This isn’t just due to the overall population growth on our little rock as it flies through space—societal and tech trends share some responsibility, as well. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario: Tech enables societal change, and societal change drives technological innovation.

Rapid urbanization affects everyone, whether they live in a large metropolitan area or out in the country. Megacities—metropolitan areas with a population of 10 million or more people—are springing up across the globe. How will humanity adapt to these massive changes?

To toot our own horns, we are the most technologically adaptable species we’ve encountered to date. New tech trends are becoming apparent with each passing day—from discovering ways to move people and products, new developments in medicine, and more sustainable methods of extracting and utilizing resources to improving connectivity across the globe. Let’s take a look at some of these technologies and examine how they might impact the cities of the future.

1. 3D printing

We’ve talked about the advantages of 3D printing, but it’s important to mention it again. The notion of converting chunks of raw material into something usable has been at the core of human existence since the stone age. Modern scanning technology will let us convert the physical world to digital information with ease, and 3D printing will change supply chain logistics forever.

Generating the components required to assemble a piece of furniture or an entire building on site with the right 3D printer and materials drastically increases agility and versatility on both a personal and industrial scale. Engineers can fashion components with high precision and low cost, and anyone with access to a computer and 3D printer can prototype designs to solve problems as they encounter them—even more easily with the right 3D-scanning capabilities. Soon, we’ll live in a world entirely made out of building blocks.

2. Autonomous zero-emissions cars

According to Engadget, Germany announced that it intends to ban the sale of internal combustion engine cars by 2030, forcing shoppers to buy vehicles exclusively powered by electricity or hydrogen fuel cells. Controversy aside, pollution is a real problem when 10 million (or more) people need to get around.

Eliminating emissions is only part of the battle. Traffic is a huge issue in large metropolitan areas as it is, and the amount of time it takes to cross town only grows with increases in population. Humans have naturally slow reaction times and are prone to making emotionally charged decisions, which is why we institute things like driving laws and traffic lights. Autonomous cars have the potential to alleviate the stress on traffic.

If there were no humans actually driving cars, we could do away with traffic lights entirely. Cars could zip between intersections and adjust their speed and timing, so they’d never get into an accident or wait for a green light, sharing information about their location, speed, the conditions of the road, and so on, all at a far quicker rate than humans could ever hope to achieve behind the wheel.

Electric car manufacturer Tesla already supports an improving form of autonomy, and its cars can help you navigate around town in a statistically safer fashion than if you were operating the controls yourself. To mitigate cost, Tesla intends to automate ride sharing, explains Wired. When you’re at work or not using your car, it can drive itself to pick up others and taxi them around on its own, with the profits going toward the cost of the vehicle (and eventually into your pocket).

By 2046, we might regard actually driving a car as a leisure activity in the same way we view horseback riding today.

3. Wearable technology and augmented reality

These two categories are deeply intertwined. Wearables is already gaining momentum as a trend, and augmented reality devices allow you do more with less. Navigating the multidimensional maze of a megacity can be drastically simplified with a screen in front of you, telling you exactly when and where to turn and what elevators to take.

Many folks sport a smart watch. Despite Google Glass being taken back to the drawing board, it showed some promise and created interest in its early stages. A ZDNet article explains how Microsoft is developing the HoloLens, which actively maps your surroundings and displays virtual objects in the real world. These devices have two things in common: They get strapped to your body, take information about the real world, and do something innovative with it.

Again, we might regard navigating a megacity in the future without a wearable augmented reality display in the same vein as navigating a present-day city without a smartphone and GPS—pure madness.

4. Robots!

Last on the list is the automation of labour. Structures could be erected in record time with automated vehicles delivering raw materials to an on-site 3D printer that can create supporting beams, light banisters, and windows to be installed by robotic cranes manufactured by the same on-site 3D printer.

This begs a major question, however: What will those 10 million people do if robots handle all the labour? The utopian answer is one of creativity and culture. People could create new prototypes, spend their time writing music, making movies, exploring philosophy, and trading ideas with one another.

But we’ll be working with the robots for the foreseeable future, before running out of work to do. And that sure beats working against them.