HP Rolls Out Metal 3D Printers

You normally think of HP as producing inkjet and laser printers. But they’ve been quietly building 3D printers aimed at commercial customers. Now they are moving out with metal printers called — predictably — the HP Metal Jet. The video (see below) is a little glitzy, but the basic idea is that print bars lay down powder on a 21-micron grid. A binding agent prints on the powder, presumably in a similar way to a conventional inkjet printer. A heat source then evaporates the liquid from the binder.

The process repeats for each layer until you remove the part and then sinter it using a third-party oven-like device. According to HP, their technique has more uniform material properties than fusing the powder on the bed with a laser. They also claim to be much faster than metal injection molding.

The website claims the resolution is 1200 DPI which is actually just a hair over 21 microns. Well, technically less than a hair, we suppose. The build volume is 430 x 320 x 200 mm.

With Christmas coming, you might want to let your significant other know you want one. Just make sure they realize the price tag is going to be “less than $399,000.” We hope you’ve been good this year, especially since you’ll have to buy the sintering machine separately. Of course, they won’t be available until 2020 — that’s a long lead time, but a $4,999 deposit will hold your place in line.

If that price tag is too steep for you, HP will arrange for a partner to print the part for you sometime in 2019 — at least if you are in the US or Western Europe. We couldn’t get an idea of the price, but from reading their information, it looks like they are targeting users with high volumes, so we expect the price for a few parts will be prohibitive.

Honestly? If we needed a metal production printer, we’d be leery. Sure, the deposit is refundable, but you are really betting that these will be good, that there won’t be something better, and that they will deliver them on time or at all. Sure, HP has a good track record and we suppose if the deposit is refundable, it isn’t a great risk as long as you don’t mind loaning HP five grand for a couple of years. But a lot can happen in two years.

We don’t know if it truly covers everything, but we found an article that claims to be a comprehensive list of 3D metal printers as of the start of the year. If you want metal parts at home, your best bet is still probably casting. You can either 3D print an original for the mold or just print the mold itself.

36 thoughts on “HP Rolls Out Metal 3D Printers

    1. Tons of others have too, but HP is big and will proably be able to market it pretty hardcore. The fusion jet system is about to roll out and that could give Staratys and 3DS a run for their money, adding this machine to that lineup makes them even more competitive.

  1. It’s an HP Printer, so really it will be 69.99, but the cartridges will be the remainder of the 398,830. It will come with a starter cartridge, but after alignment, nozzle cleaning, you will be able to print one “3DBenchy”, at 1/4 scale.

    The best part is, for consumer security and reliability, the cartridges will come with Digital Rights Management. It protects your right to give money to HP, and only HP for cartridges, this is for your protection!

    You will get the best quality prints, with HP quality cartridges.

    The drivers will be Windows Only, and require only 1Gb, and of course require registration, and root access to the PC for best quality printing. Printing information will be sent to HP for quality control. The printer will also require WiFi always-on access for updates, and will automatically order cartridges when empty. If you subscribe to the cartridge program, you can save 10%!

        1. that tech has already been paid off, by about 100000X. An ink cartridge costs less than $2.00, and contains 0.23 worth of actual ink.

          the typical cartridge is $35, so thats $33 profit, or about 94%.

          Lets assume a 50% loss on the printer. printers sell for 69.00. 2 ink cartridges and the loss is more than recovered. Now add the cleaning cycles, priming cycles, wasting magenta ink, and inkjets are just one big scam.

        1. Aftermarket cartridges can cause loss of profits. That’s about the only issue they can cause.

          Maybe the blacks aren’t quite as black, but when I need the kid to print out some report that’s going to be shredded anyway, I don’t care.

          I’m not going for archival quality here, I’m just going for long enough for it to be graded.

          If I want longevity, I’ll get a laser.

    1. At first, it sounded ok. Depending on cartridge cost, maybe only one 3DBenchy per cartridge isn’t too bad.

      Then I got more skeptical. Like, I’m not completely on-board with DRM or the Windows-only part because I feel everything should be free… like libre free. So that made me a little worried, but I can adapt with a VM.

      Then I got to the part about saving 10%.

      ..and HP totally redeemed themselves. I’ll take ten.

  2. We have an HP Multi Jet Fusion machine at work that prints in PA12 Nylon. All joking aside about cartridges and whatnot the machine churns out insanely strong prints with surprisingly high feature resolution. Makes me rather optimistic about the metal machine.

  3. of course it is for production runs, if you dont use it consistently the cartridges dry out so you have to buy new ones. lol

    Seriously though i would love to actually see a comparison between laser sintering and this method of 3d metal printing. Their claims of more uniform material properties is a bold one and seems to be based on the fluctuation of laser power through the build process (a problem with the powder material would affect both processes equally)

    1. I can imagine, the laser power can be controlled quite easily. But local heating an heat distribution strongly depends on the neighboring geometry. Probably this can be calculated and compensated to some amount, but not completely.

    1. +1,

      I do believe you can use it to scan, copy, or fax any 3-D item. Just be sure you keep the roller clean to prevent jams.
      Hmmm, on second thought, you might NOT be able to scan, copy, or fax jam, jelly, or marmalade.

  4. HP never made laser printer engines, They were made by Canon. HP would then add printer controllers and re box / badge them. They did the same with some of their inkjet printers.

  5. Got to see this thing in action at IMTS. It’s an absolute monster of a machine, but sadly it’s completely closed off while operating so not very interesting to look at.

    The parts looked fantastic, and went from larger gear sets down to surgical tools.

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