HP unveils Multi Jet Fusion: The future of 3D printing?

Hewlett-Packard has announced it is entering the 3D printing market, after revealing the Multi Jet Fusion technology set to power a new range of commercial and corporate printers.

The US firm claims that the new technology is 10 times faster than existing 3D printers, as well as being more affordable and producing stronger products.

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HP hopes that it can bring 3D printing into the mainstream after the technology has struggled to gain traction with consumers. The company expects the new technology to be available to the public by 2016.

HP's announcement of its 3D printer offering comes just a few weeks after the company confirmed it will be splitting into two separate entities by October next year. Following the split, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will handle the firm's business software and services, while HP Inc. will focus on personal computers and printing products.

Stephen Nigro, senior vice president at HP, said that the firm entered the market, because it felt there was an opportunity to improve on the 3D printers currently available in terms of speed, quality and cost. He said Multi Jet Fusion had the potential to "transform manufacturing across industries."

HP explained that the technology speeds up 3D imaging by building an entire surface area instead of printing an object one point at a time. The company also has plans to extend 3D printing materials beyond thermoplastics by using a wider range of colours, ceramics and metals. Currently, Micro Jet Fusion uses fused nylon, to an accuracy of 20 microns.

The company said its target market would, initially at least, be corporate clients, but plans to make the technology available to consumers through "service bureaus."

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HP is one of the biggest names to enter the 3D printing industry and it will be hoping that its brand power and financial muscle can finally launch the fledgling technology into the mainstream.