HP has just developed a new 3D printing system for large scale manufacturing, the world’s first, and nine companies have signed up to use it, BMW and Nike being the largest of the bunch. Stephen Nigro, head of HP’s 3D printing business, claims that this new system will be able to increase printing speed by up to 10 times. “We want to change the way the world prints parts,” said Nigro. “Customers are looking at how to transform their (3-D printing) business from prototyping to production.”
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BMW hasn’t yet said what sort of parts it will manufacture using this new 3D printing system, for competitive purposes, however, expect it to be relatively small and special parts. These 3D printers, despite their incredible speeds in comparison to older ones, still cannot mass produce the way traditional methods can. What they can do, though, is cut down on time and cost for lower volume, specialty or customized items.
According to Jens Ertel, Head of BMW Group’s Additive Manufacturing Center, BMW plans to use this system for serial parts and customization. So if a BMW offers a special trim or lip spoiler or whatever it may be that’s relatively small and something that’s special ordered, BMW can make it far easier and cheaper with this new style of 3D printer.
“The opportunity to use 3-D printing for final-part manufacturing — custom, limited edition and mass production — is vast,” according to Terry Wohlers, President of Market Research Wohlers & Associates.
While these high-end 3D printers are still very expensive and expensive to use, with this new HP model starting at $130,000, they will still be worth it for manufacturing specialized parts. It makes it faster, easier and cheaper to get customized parts to the customer instead of using more traditional methods. This will help many customers who like to get some of BMW’s M Performance parts and aesthetic upgrades straight from the factory. BMW will be able to also offer a wider array of specialized items and parts to the customers, as now the brand’s limitations have almost been lifted.