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This is the second part of our interview with Ramon Pastor, Global Manager and General Manager of HP 3D Metal and General Manager of HP Barcelona Site. To read the first part, click here.

While most 3D printers today are dedicated to the production of plastic pieces, the economies of scale of die casting still make 3D printing slow and expensive to mass produce identical parts.

In 3D printing, unlike traditional production, the unit price does not depend on the volume. 3D printing also allows the same parts to be manufactured to exactly the same specifications anywhere in the world, thus saving additional transport costs and making production more sustainable. In the supply chain, 3D printing can eliminate the cost of storing inventory and is the embodiment of just in time.

3D printing

GKN Powder Metallurgy and Functional Metal Part HP Metal Jet – Courtesy of HP

According to Ramon Pastor, the problem with 3D printing is that it competes with the world’s most efficient injection molding technology. He argues that the industry is now focusing on the overall efficiency of 3D printing equipment and the areas in which it can compete. These areas are distributed production, customization and small and medium series of complex parts.

In addition, HP and other manufacturers are already experimenting with other materials such as high-temperature glass and fabrics, but these solutions are still several years away from commercial viability.

Over the past few years, HP has invested heavily in 3D metal printing. Although it is difficult to compete in plastics, the production of metal parts by 3D printing can be much more efficient than some traditional systems. Pastor argues that in the production of metals, 3D has the significant advantage of adding a much more efficient process to achieve an almost networked shape of the part.

The following is a transcript, edited for clarity, of the second part of our conversation with Ramon Pastor.

EPSNews: Talking about current technologies and what’s to come, 3D printing is constantly improving and there are new things you can produce, including new materials and new processes. Can you give us an idea of ​​current developments, including metal printing?

Ramon Pastor: Let me start with the plastic part and then move on to metals. The problem with plastics in 3D is that you are competing with probably the most efficient technology in the world, which is die casting.

Injection molding is so, so effective. Many people have mastered this. So, unless you go to a specific case of use: rich production, customization, high type of mixing things or different materials, you can not compete. It would be best if you constantly find the reason for 3D printing, because at a low price, against each other, when you go to meaningful series, it is really difficult to compete.

This reality test comes after several years of the 3D printing industry, which makes some bells and whistles, creates products based on speeds and adjustments, and promises the moon.

We are currently facing reality and investing heavily in turning 3D into a production tool. We invest in materials. We invest in faster printers.

Where we mainly invest is to make sure that viability, repeatability and accuracy are there. After all, the key indicator for our customers is the overall efficiency of the equipment (OEE). In principle, we want to make sure that we look at the operating time of our machines. What is the yield they have? What is quality? What is productivity? To make sure this is a full-time tool in a production line.

Without changing the platform, many investments range from 80% OEE to 90% OEE to 95% OEE. This is not a big marketing blow and I think the industry is tired of marketing splashes. What they need are real, real production tools.

This is where we focus 90 percent of our efforts: making sure the OEE is there and that our customers who want to scale can actually scale.

EPSNews: You recently announced new advances in metallic 3D technology. What can you tell us and why is this so important to HP?

Ramon Pastor: When it comes to metals, I’m actually very excited this year, because this is the year we’re launching our metal technology. And it will be great because of the differences with the plastic world.

3D printingWe are not competing with something like die casting. Metal is not like that. Equivalent to die casting in metals, MIMS, this is a very niche type of player producing very small parts. And if you look at the complexity of technology in metal, a lot of it actually comes from [Ancient] Egyptians.

Therefore, in addition to all the values ​​of 3D printing on geometry, freedom, customization, short runs, separation time, etc., in metals, you have the significant advantage of adding a much more efficient process to get a close net shape of the metal part.

Now this only applies to Binder Jetting, a manufacturer of metal additives. Traditional melting-based 3D printing technologies are still slow and expensive. But the new generation of inkjet technologies, which HP will be one of the first to do, but there are other companies that promise to actually reach a course that will unlock many applications in playback.

We find that in many cases we have customers who think of producing millions from the same part, not different SKUs. They find an offer of economic value compared to the traditional way of production [metal parts].

And for me it’s completely different. That’s why I’m very, very excited about it.

EPSNews: Ramon, thank you very much for your time and sharing with us your views on the market, the challenges in the supply chain and the opportunities of new metal technologies.

Metal 3D Printing Offers New Opportunities for HP

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