Global powerhouse HP Inc. hosted its Global Innovation Summit this week at its location outside Barcelona, as dozens of analysts and journalists joined company and partner executives for an engaging few days exploring advanced technologies. For this event, 3D printing and immersive computing provided a baseline focus, with presentations on and conversations in adoption, acceleration, and advances. It was a pleasure to be on the ground this week in Spain to learn more directly in the labs of HP and several customers about the expansion of Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing. The last time I was at the Sant Cugat site was two years ago, just ahead of the official unveiling of MJF, and the demonstrable progress since 2016 is heartening for the adoption of the technology and the forward momentum of 3D printing as an industrial solution.
Neta Tully, Head of Communications, EMEA and Helena Herrero, Managing Director, HP Iberia opened the summit’s plenary session with a welcome to those joining in person and virtually, with Herrero noting that HP has seen a “strong start to FY18.” In the last years, the company has been placing the foundations — “thanks to the reinvention of the company” — and the summit provided a means to share a look into the progress HP has seen. With a strategy anchored in the pillars of core, growth, and future, the company remains “aligned and focused” on the important aspects of its progress.
“One ingredient that’s very important is the way we do things, the culture,” Herrero explained. “This is embedded in our DNA, the way we do things. Partnership, trust, openness: that is in the DNA, that comes from our founders. We create technology to make life better…today, this includes 3D printing and immersive computing.”
As HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler has underscored, 3D printing is an important part of the company’s strategic approach and aligns with the foundational vision from Messrs. Hewlett and Packard from the earliest days in the now-landmark HP Garage.
Louis Kim, Global Head and General Manager, Immersive Computing, shared a look at the convergence of the physical and digital worlds, highlighting collaboration, capture, experience, and personalization as the major aspects of working with immersive technologies. HP’s offerings in these areas include, respectively, the collaborative-enabling Sprout platform, 3D capture and 3D scanning to quickly bring objects into workflow, VR to bring imagination and experience into digital workflow, and 3D scanning of bodies as an example of personalizing fit such as for shoes.
Vice President and General Manager of Multi Jet Fusion Ramon Pastor next addressed the growth of 3D printing and the place of MJF within the larger global manufacturing economy.
“When we think about 3D printing, we think it is changing the way the world designs and manufactures. Industry 4.0 is the convergence of these technologies into the way the world manufactures,” Pastor explained, noting that 3D printing takes bits into atoms.
“3D printing is the only manufacturing technology that boasts no geometrical constraints. With logistics, the more managers realize the potential and reconfigure their routes, the more and the faster we will accelerate this move into digital. Multi Jet Fusion is by far the most productive system today on the market.”
Pastor addressed HP’s open material platform as well as the recently-introduced 300/500 series 3D printers that allow for full-color 3D printing and a new democratization in terms of price point. High-volume deployments were in focus, though, as during the summit HP announced increases in installments and headline-making applications (“It’s all about applications,” Pastor and the team noted). The new International Advanced Manufacturing 3DHUB (IAM 3DHUB) located near Barcelona, offically opened just today, has eight installed MJF 3D printers as more becomes possible with higher-volume installations. Among highlighted applications were the company’s 140+ 3D printed parts for the new series of 3D printers, an EV battery cooling manifold, Stern3D and Crispin Orthotics uses in healthcare, promotional Black Panther designs from Protolabs and Pepsico, and the new 3D printed helmets for the highly traditional Pontifical Swiss Guard.
A fireside chat followed Pastor’s dive into 3D printing, as Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer Nate Hurst and Director, Product Stewardship John Ortiz discussed HP’s dedication to sustainability. Through advanced technologies including 3D printing and an increasingly digital workflow, waste generation is increasingly able to be minimized, as manufacturing must pay more attention to the reduction of ocean waste. Democratization and agility of production additionally allow for broader impact around the world, as Hurst noted work in Haiti to help following the devestating earthquake. 3D printing comes into play in HP’s circular economy strategy, as well.
“We have moved very heavily into circular economy as a focus in our strategy. 3D printing is connecting this, and allowing other industries to support their products for longer periods of time, eliminating waste, eliminating downtime. HP 3D printing is enabling something that didn’t exist before. It is eliminating waste and providing support eonomically for customers. The supply chain — we’re still figuring that out. What we look at right now is that we’ve digitized 2D printing, both commercial and industrial; customers are able to reduce their inventories by more than 30% with on-demand printing, printing only what you need when you need it. We are applying that to 3D printing,” Ortiz explained.
HP CTO Shane Wall looked next to megatrends impacting visions of the future, as well as the sub-trends stemming from these. Highlighting rapid urbanization, changing demographics, hyper globalization, and accelerated innovation, Wall discussed the implications of each area as seen by HP.
One critical piece of a digital puzzle is security, which Wall highlighted as a key focus. Building security into every step of its solutions, HP is moving that mindset into its 3D printers, “securing the printers themselves, securing the parts, securing the supply chain,” he said. “We build security into each our products that we’re doing.”
After the plenary session, a tour of HP’s facility offered an inside look into applications in 3D printing, a closer exploration inside MJF systems, and immersive computing and VR offerings. A showcase presentation of applications and customer successes detailed real-world use cases for Multi Jet Fusion and FitStation Powered by HP.
The 3D printing lab has grown over the last two years, of course, and Jesus López and Sasha de Peña provided additional insight into the company’s systems.
“If we’re going to disrupt manufacturing, we have to learn from manufacturing,” López noted during the tour.
“We are working with more plastic materials to develop more applications. To add value to parts, we are working in surface finishing. We have been shipping the Jet Fusion series of 3D printers since December 2016; these were designed for production. They create functional parts up to ten times faster at the lowest cost. In the same time — one hour — that MJF produces 260 gears, SLS can create 25, and FDM just 4 gears. The 300/500 series was developed for prototyping, and offers a lower acquisition cost for MJF systems. Functional color 3D printing is poised for future innovation.”
Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing includes a layer-by-layer approach seen in both the Jet Fusion industrial systems and the 300/500 series prototyping systems, de Peña said, discussing the technology and build units. Putting down energy in each pass speeds process time and lowers costs compared to single-laser build systems, he added.
The first day of the summit was rounded out by a networking reception and dinner, during which time I appreciated the opportunity to speak more with Pastor and other attendees about strategies and visions for the future.
Following the focus on HP and its approaches and offerings, the second day of the summit featured customer stories highlighting real-world implementation of 3D printing and immersive computing technologies. Stay tuned for a look into reports in 3D printing from France-based Sculpteo, Barcelona-based FICEP S3, and Belgium-based ZiggZagg; and insights into immersive computing with Brooks and Superfeet. In-depth interviews will also be following soon, as I appreciated the opportunities to sit down with several HP executives and partners to discuss advances in and real-life applications for 3D printing.
Discuss HP, Multi Jet Fusion, the future of manufacturing, and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.
[All photos: Sarah Goehrke]