HP Multi Jet Fusion
This technology uses PA12 (Polyamide 12, a.k.a. ‘Nylon’), as does laser sintering. However, Hewlett Packard’s Jet Fusion technology is not just another way of printing with PA12; it is a revolutionary technique which shook up the entire 3D printing market.
As compared to laser sintering, Jet Fusion creates stronger parts, has a higher accuracy and resolution and is a number of orders of magnitude faster – and all of this at a similar or even lower cost. Jet Fusion printed parts, unlike laser-sintered parts, have a density of almost 100% and can be used for functional or end-use parts.
Due to its high efficiency and the resultant product’s properties, Jet Fusion 3D printing shifted the use of additive technologies from, primarily, the creation of prototypes to the (additive) manufacture of 10,000 plus pieces for real-world use.
The technology underlying Jet fusion is more comparable to that of Polyjet than it is to that of Laser Sintering (SLS), even though it uses the material (PA12 – Polyamide 12, a common industrial plastic) in common with SLS.
The way Fusion Jet works is that a print head ejects a heat-conducting liquid (called the fusing agent) onto a layer of powder. Immediately after printing, a heat source (infrared light) is applied. The powder in the areas containing the fusing agent is heated up more effectively than the powder without the agent and the former is fused together. In simple words, the fusing agent (which is black) absorbs more energy than the raw (white) powder.
In addition, the technology uses a second agent, called the detailing agent. Unlike the fusing agent, the detailing agent is isolating. The detailing agent is ejected around the areas where the fusing agent is applied. The agent is required to ensure the printing of sharp edges; it creates a clear temperature difference between the printed areas and the loose, unused powder around it. Without the detailing agent, the edges could become rounded and the details blurry.
The performance of the systems is absolutely astonishing; every second, 300 million drops of agent are ejected with an accuracy of 21 microns – half of that of Polyjet, our highest resolution Rapid Prototyping technology.
While this technology (HP Multi Jet) is quite complex, it has some significant advantages:
- Part-Density: The agents cover the entire model area and are fused quite evenly. After fusing, the parts have a density of almost 100% (a 5 – 10% higher density as compared to laser-sintered PA12).
- Isotropy: Unlike most other additive manufacturing technologies, Jet Fusion printed parts are widely isotropic, i.e. the strength of a part is independent of the direction in which it is stressed. The reason for this is that the fusion agent is spread across each layer and causes homogeneously fused parts across all axes.
- Speed: Due to the large number of print heads, the layers take only a few seconds to be printed and fused. The fusing process is integrated in the printing process, so there are no extra steps involved. All in all, Jet Fusion is many times faster than FDM or SLS 3D printing. More than 3 cm per hour can be printed (laser sintering ~1 cm / h); this puts the process among the fastest additive technologies available today.
- Resolution: Due to the use of the very small droplets, the Jet Fusion system has a resolution in the X-Y-axis of 1200 dpi, which is unmatched by any other additive manufacturing technology. Furthermore, since the printing process is very fast, smaller layer-heights can be used economically, and this further increases the resolution/level of detail and surface quality. We, at 3Faktur, print your MJM parts using a layer height of 80 microns.
Image courtesy of HP. HP’s white paper on the Multi Jet Fusion Technology can be downloaded here.
Short-run Manufacturing of Functional Parts
The HP Jet Fusion technology shifts the application of 3D printing from use only in prototyping applications to use in actual manufacturing. This technology enables the manufacture of large quantities of parts in extremely short turn-around times, while matching the accuracy, resolution and part strength attained by traditional manufacturing technologies. Compared to traditional manufacturing technologies, Jet Fusion has the advantage of lead times, economy and flexibility:
- Lead times: For small to medium sized plastic parts, quantities of 100 – 5,000 per week can easily be produced. Where necessary, a large number of parts can be produced in as little time as a single day; this is a time performance which is virtually impossible using production technologies such as molding or milling.
- Economics: Due to the high speed and low material consumption, the technology is among the lowest cost additive manufacturing technologies.
- Flexibility: additive manufacturing has a number of significant advantages over traditional production technologies in terms of flexibility
- Changes: changes to the part can be easily implemented. There are no tools that need to be changed or programs that need to be adjusted, just modifying the CAD file is sufficient. Since ‘complexity is for free’ with this technology, it does not matter what the changes are, since even the most complex shapes can be produced.
- On-demand manufacturing: the parts can be produced whenever they are needed; no tool or process change is required. This helps you to minimize the number of parts you need to keep in stock.
If you have questions about your additive manufacturing project, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
While rapid prototyping technologies like Stereolithography and Polyjet create highly accurate prototypes with smooth surfaces, the lack of strength of the resultant products make them unsuitable as functional parts or as any part which must face significant mechanical or thermal stress.
Before HP’s Jet Fusion technology hit the market, the most common way of 3D printing functional prototypes was by laser sintering. However, with Jet Fusion, parts can be created, which are stronger than laser-sintered parts, but which are as accurate as those produced by photopolymer based technologies (e.g. Polyjet or Stereolithography). The advantages of HP JetFusion can be summarised as follows:
- Very strong parts: Unlike laser sintering, Jet Fusion creates parts with a density of almost 100%. Moreover, unlike most other 3D printing technologies, Jet Fusion parts are virtually isotropic, meaning they have comparable strengths in all directions. In particular FDM, and also to some extent SLS, create parts which are anisotropic and break more easily along the Z-axis.
- High accuracy: an accuracy of 0.2% (with a lower limit of 0.2 mm) or even lower outperforms laser sintering and attains similar levels to Stereolithography and Polyjet.
- High Resolution: With a 1,200 dpi printing resolution and a layer height of just 80 microns, Jet Fusion significantly outperforms most other additive manufacturing technologies.
Parts with Complex Geometries
Jet Fusion is one of the few additive technologies which does not require the use of support structures. Therefore, even the most complex shapes, including those with undercuts, can be produced at no additional cost. The only limitations relate to very small structures (e.g., those with wall thicknesses below 0.6 mm), thin tubes and small internal structures – where excess material cannot be removed. Other than that, the only limit is the imagination.
- Very high accuracy and resolution
- Parts exceptionally strong and virtually isotropic
- Extremely fast and cost efficient
- Surface quality is good, but rougher than that produced by photopolymer based technologies (Stereolithography, Polyjet).
- The raw parts are grey; these parts can easily be dyed black, but other colors require coating (at extra cost).
- Only one material (PA12) is available.
Fusion Jet is a very new technology which was launched just in early 2017. The only material available with it, so far, is PA12 (Polyamide 12, commonly called Nylon). PA12 is an all-purpose, engineering grade plastic which is used across all the major industries, often for challenging applications.
HP has allowed third parties to develop new materials for use with Fusion Jet. Since several industrial giants, such as Evonic, are currently developing new materials for this technology, we can expect the launch of a number of new materials within the next few months and years.
PA12 (Polyamide 12, ‘Nylon’)
PA12 (Polyamide 12, ‘Nylon’): Fusion Jet PA12 is a very homogeneous and strong plastic which can be used for prototypes and end-use parts.
Fusion Jet 3D printed PA12 parts can be processed to a high standard after printing. Our post-process options include:
- Bead Blasting;
- Sanding (nonporous surface allows very high surface quality);
- Dyeing (Black); and
- Spray painting (individual colors).
Hewlett Packard started the development of its 3D printers many years back. The first official presentation was in 2014, when the company officially announced the development of its 3D printing technology and for the first time shared some of the features that users could expect, e.g., the unmatched speed and resolution of the system. HP immediately attracted huge attention in the industry, since these features of the technology were seen as groundbreaking and capable of shifting additive manufacturing from being a process for producing prototypes to one which was suitable for actual short-run manufacturing.
In 2014, HP took some other leading industrial companies on board (e.g. Nike, BMW, Johnson & Johnson) as collaborative partners in order to fine-tune the development and features of the printer. After several delays, the HP Multi Jet Fusion 4200 3D printer was finally launched in November 2016 in North America, and in early 2017 the first machines arrived in Europe.
While HP launched just one material with the machines, it encouraged other companies to develop alternative materials for the system. The chemicals giant Evonik was the first company to launch another material, also a PA12, and obtain FDA approval. More materials are expected in late 2017 and early 2018.
Introduction video by HP to showcase the strength of the parts.
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