Although we love talking about what we do, much of our work is highly confidential. Particularly recently. We’ve noticed a significant uptake in orders for large batches of components printed on our HP MJF machine. These longer print runs make great use of HP’s MJF technology but are often undertaken for jobs that our clients want keeping under wraps. No one wants to give away design secrets and as we take NDA’s seriously, this means we can’t talk much about these projects. What’s clear though, is how well suited the HP is to this sort of work.
Recent print runs have seen us producing a wide range of components for diverse applications. We’ve had catches, sprockets, automotive parts, parts for domestic appliances, tiny connectors, shelf brackets, even components that incorporate a mix of solid and flexible elements. Much of the time we’re printing items, often in their 100s or 1000s, with no idea of what they are or how they’ll be used. This work has, however, given us a very clear idea of just how incredibly versatile the HP is for all kinds of manufacturers.
We all know that with Additive Manufacturing there are no costly tooling processes. AM also enables product designers and manufacturers to move seamlessly from prototyping to final part production. Where the HP MJF stands out is in its low running costs and top-quality prints that are strong, durable and, should the design demand, flexible. With a layer height of .08mm, the HP also produces smooth prints with a uniform surface texture. It has a maximum print size of 380mm x 284 mm x 380 mm. And it’s FAST.
The HP Multi Jet Fusion technology is significantly faster that SLS when it comes to build unit cooling and post-processing. Both MJF and SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) processes use powder bed fusion to build parts by thermally fusing or sintering thermoplastic polymer powder particles layer-by-layer. Where SLS uses a laser to scan and sinter each cross-section, the MJF uses an ink fusing agent that absorbs infrared light, fusing the inked areas. Although MJF does often print faster than its SLS counterpart, it’s in the cooling and post-processing that it really stands out.
The HP has a dedicated post-processing station meaning that as soon as one print run is complete, the build unit can be removed for cooling and unpacking allowing a second build unit to be inserted into the printer to carry on printing. Items can be printed, cooled and unpacked in three days, with subsequent runs being produced daily.
Also, with the HP MJF, up to 80-85% of the recovered powder can be recycled and reused. Faster cooling and the increased recyclability mean that it still makes economic sense to start a print job when a build unit is only partially full.
As print systems go, it’s incredibly versatile, efficient and easy to work with meaning we can produce large print-runs of components with ease. (Even if we can’t disclose exactly what they are…)
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