March 24, 2016
It’s always seemed somewhat odd that an industry that claims to be invested in the “democratization of manufacturing” would restrict material availability to its customers through the use of proprietary materials. While touted as a means to ensure quality, many 3D printer users can’t help but wonder whether the only thing separating the roll of filament used in one 3D printer from another is an RFID chip that ensures they paid the parent company for the material.
The restricted ink song-and-dance is, of course, nothing new. It was pioneered by standard 2D printer companies as one way of ensuring continued sales. Interestingly, that appears to be one area of 3D printer commerce HP isn’t concerned in cornering with its MultiJet Fusion system, which is scheduled to launch in the fall.
HP is promising a lot from its new system. According to the company, users will be able to control multiple aspects of the printing process, including flexibility, translucency and color down to the voxel. The company also promises the system will be both faster and less expensive than existing additive manufacturing (AM) systems.
Unlike its ink printers, though, HP says it isn’t interested in cornering customers into buying materials from a single source. The MultiJet Fusion system is intended to be an open platform, and that openness begins with allowing customers to pick and choose their material options.
“We’ll still have print and supplies but our model will be different; we will open up the platform so people can have other supplies that come in,” Shane Wall, CTO at HP told The Register. “They’ll [third party suppliers] have access to our APIs through an SDK that allows them to program to the printer itself, and we’ll allow people to come in and do very disruptive new materials that they wouldn’t have been able to do before.”
Opening material options to third-party developers might just give HP the leg up it will require if it intends to make an impact in the AM game.
Below you’ll find a video about HP’s MultiJet Fusion system.
Source: The Register