December 14, 2017
Dear DE Reader:
On a guided tour of a company's facility, I noticed that they were not using their sister division's equipment that could handle their manufacturing process. When I mentioned that, the tour ended. Frankly, that's not particularly unusual. What is unusual is when your sister division uses your stuff and it not only does what it's meant to do, but it helps you innovate and save time and money in more ways than you considered.
That's the Netflix blurb on “HP Reinvents with 3D Printing Technology,” but there's way more packed into this nice, tidy, two-page case study than that. This is a good read on a lot of levels.
The plot line's details are these: Some HP engineers specializing in large-format inkjet printers for print shops had a problem with innovation. Basically, many machines for this niche market segment are made in small, often customized quantities. The machines are a complex design with thousands of moving parts, many that are injection-molded or machined.
But injection molding and machining can make producing low volumes of test parts a cost nightmare. That reality, in turn, slows down the speed and nimbleness of the design process. Probably worst of all, it means the engineer self- (or from above) imposed constraints on what-iffing. No matter how many CAD iterations you do, you can only make a handful of real-world parts to bust or approve.
So, what happened was that these engineers got the idea to try out HP's Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology. They could see that some parts in their inkjet printers, even key components, were candidates for 3D printing. But could the technology also help them explore more designs cost-effectively and reduce manufacturing costs?
It did and more. Not only were final parts less expensive and better, but also they were lighter. The latter reduced the weight of shipping products, lowering costs throughout the supply chain. The paper provides some hard numbers on costs savings and weight reductions. It also takes you through the engineers' thought processes and provides a number of insights from the engineers whose experience it relates.
Today's Check it Out link lands you on a micro-site with everything you would want to know about HP's Multi Jet Fusion 3D technology. After reading your copy of “HP Reinvents with 3D Printing Technology,” poke around the micro-site and consider how you might be able to reinvent your process, too.
Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, DE