Siemens recently announced it is collaborating with HP Inc. to develop new solutions to transform additive manufacturing (AM) from a prototyping tool to full production utilization. The new technology will enable 3D printing of functional production parts that can be made from multiple materials in multiple colors. The new additive manufacturing offering will help drive the new and scalable Multi Jet Fusion technology and new HP Jet Fusion 3D printers. This combination will help enable designers and engineers to create products that go beyond today’s production limitations and that can be manufactured at greatly increased speeds using 3D printing. Siemens’ new additive manufacturing offering will leverage the company’s comprehensive end-to-end design to production technology suite. Together with HP Multi Jet Fusion technology it is intended to allow unprecedented print control, including material characteristics down to the voxel-level, at speeds up to ten times faster and at half the cost of current 3D print systems. (A “voxel” is essentially a 3D pixel.)
“Additive manufacturing technology is bringing about an industrial revolution in manufacturing, allowing business to use 3D printing to realize creativity and innovation in product development,” said Chuck Grindstaff, president and chief executive officer, Siemens PLM Software. “HP’s new 3D printing technology driven by Siemens’ additive manufacturing software will provide engineers a new level of design freedom, customization and speed. Companies will be able develop products that perform better with less weight and more strength. They will be able to print assembly components as one part with varying characteristics, saving time and money while reducing the chance of manufacturing errors. These new capabilities will change how parts are made but more importantly how products are envisioned.”
In order to make 3D printing a viable production alternative, the technology has to evolve in regards to speed, quality, and cost. Equally important, the data input for 3D printers has to also evolve, making software a critical component. Designers and engineers can only take full advantage of additive manufacturing if they can have control over part and material characteristics down to the voxel-level. This means having the ability to print parts with variable textures, density, strength and friction, as well as electrical and thermal characteristics. Voxel–level control at the printer could have a massive influence on what designers and engineers can do with product innovation and manufacturing.