Formnext 2023 saw relatively few companies tackle the issue of scaling up additive manufacturing.
During the Frankfurt-based trade show, 3D Printing Industry spoke with HP’s Vice President and General Manager Ramon Pastor and Indo-MIM CEO Krishna Chivukula to learn more about their partnership and scaling additive manufacturing for serial production.
“I think this partnership with Indo-MIM is an inflection point of how we think about scale with binder jetting,” explained Pastor. “I think it will change the trajectory of the adoption of binder jetting in the industry.”
Indo-MIM has already invested in three HP Metal Jet S100 3D printers as part of this collaboration, and will work with HP to qualify new materials such as M2 tool steel.
Indo-MIM will now join HP’s digital manufacturing network, meeting the production needs of customers within a range of industries including aerospace, automotive, consumer electronics, and healthcare.
Using metal binder jetting, multinational printing firm HP and Indian metal injection molding (MIM) bureau Indo-MIM announced a strategic partnership. Through this collaboration, the two companies will work to scale HP’s binder jetting technology to serial production, and expand the applications of metal additive manufacturing.
HP and Indo-MIM’s partnership
Two of Indo-MIM’s newly acquired HP Metal Jet S100’s will be located at the company’s Bangalore facility. Here, one of the 3D S100’s will be utilized for new material development. The other will focus on application development, catering to customers in the Middle East, India, and the Asia-Pacific region.
Indo-MIM’s third Metal Jet 3D printer will be based in Texas, fulfilling the company’s commitment to providing localized support for North American clients, and expanding its production capabilities.
“In my opinion, the HP Metal Jet S100 is the first real production scale 3D printer in binder jetting to hit the market,” stated Chivukula. “We’ll be using it to produce. We’ll be working on applications that come in through their digital manufacturing network, we’ll be working on developing more powders that can be used on the system, and we’ll be supplying powders as well.”
Additionally, Indo-MIM is leveraging HP’s Process Development software to develop new innovations relating to the speed, scalability, and adaptability of the binder jetting process. This software is said to offer significant value in managing application development workflows. Moreover, it is hoped that HP’s recently released Digital Sintering software will allow Indo-MIM to speed up the sintering process to produce production quality parts in fewer iterations.
Chivukula outlined Indo-MIM’s initial projects as being in the medical, automotive, and jewelry sectors. Whilst these projects are currently in the design stage, Chivukula is confident that HP technology will allow these to scale to the production of end-use parts. “The customers really want to see what they can do with this technology, and I think a lot of these are going to translate into production.”
Scaling metal additive manufacturing to serial production
Pastor views serial production as the most valuable next step for additive manufacturing. “3D printing in both polymers and metals has been very focused on either prototyping or very short runs,” commented Pastor. “Where the really fascinating part comes in is when you have the economics, the yield, and the uptime to really meet serial production.
According to Pastor, serial production does not necessarily translate to large runs of parts with the same geometries. Instead, Pastor believes it can be high-mix high-volume production. “This is where things get very interesting. You create value for your customers because you can do this high-mix production, without trading off the economics.”
This level of production is not without its challenges. Pastor views customer confidence as being a key hurdle for increasing the adoption of additive manufacturing for serial production.
“To get the most out of 3D printing, you need to think natively on a 3D printing design,” explained Pastor. “You need to have the trust that this technology can be a full manufacturing workflow.”
However, Pastor believes that once these challenges are overcome, 3D printing offers significant value to customers. “I think that a lot of customers have now realized the power of additive manufacturing. There’s still a lot of work to do, but I think that most of the big companies are interested, and it’s just about giving them confidence.”
Ultimately, Pastor views HP’s new partnership with Indo-MIM, one of the largest contract manufacturers using MIM technology, as a “big signal that the Metal Jet S100 is ready for serial production.”
HP grows its network at Formnext 2023
Indo-MIM is not the only company to have announced a new collaboration with HP. During Formnext 2023, HP announced a series of partnerships with Sandvik, GKN Additive, and Elnik’s sister business DSH Technologies, to advance its Metal Jet technology.
Through these new partnerships, HP hopes to broaden material availability and innovations for the tooling industry. This includes the development of new materials such as superalloys and competitively priced 316L.
HP’s strategic collaboration with GKN Additive will see the companies qualify a diverse range of materials for Metal Jet S100 customers. The end goal of this partnership is to accelerate innovations in the tooling industry, achieving increased productivity and quality without traditional machining.
HP also announced a strategic partnership with 3D printing service provider Materialise at Formnext 2023. This partnership sees HP’s Multi Jet Fusion and Metal Jet additive manufacturing technology integrated into the Materialise CO-AM software platform. The companies claim that this integration will allow manufacturers to raise the efficiency and quality of their 3D printing workflow, driving volume production of end-use parts.
“To scale additive manufacturing, the industry is in need of printers that are designed for high productivity coupled with an integrated end-to-end workflow solution,” commented Arvind Rangarajan, Global Head of Software and Data of HP Personalization and 3D Printing. “The partnership between HP and Materialise delivers this solution.”
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