Congratulations on your new role leading HP’s Metal Jet business, Tim. Can you tell us a little about your path here?
In my 25 years at HP, I’ve been fortunate help lead the development of numerous new printing technologies with implications that go well beyond the printing market to much larger arenas, like the $12 trillion global manufacturing industry. That experience has given me a great understanding of how manufacturing works on a nuts-and-bolts level: What it takes to make millions of things that are exactly the same, at the right cost and with the right yield, over and over again. My team and I have taken that knowledge, along with HP’s expertise in both 2D printing and 3D plastics, to create a new tool for large manufacturers. It combines 3D printing technology with the material that is the lifeblood of their businesses: Metal.
How does HP’s Metal Jet technology differ from previous 3D printing processes?
Essentially, we are building on our plastics experience to enter the very large metals manufacturing market. With HP’s foundational 3D printing technology, Multi Jet Fusion, you take a bed of powdered plastic and use small jets to apply a fusing agent that absorbs heat and melts the plastic. In metals, we are using the same approach, but instead of a fusing agent, we apply a different material called a binding agent to the powdered layers of the metal, which helps to increase productivity up to 50 times more than other similar processes. You need that level of productivity, one that’s capable of creating consistently high-quality functional metal parts that meet or exceed industry standard, to make a dent (sorry) in the huge metals-driven markets like automotive, medical and industrial.