Detroit — Can 3D printing compete on the same manufacturing level as injection molding? HP Inc.'s David Woodlock thinks it can — eventually.
Woodlock, who handles market development for 3D printing at the company's offices in Vancouver, Wash., spoke Nov. 8 at the 2017 Design in Plastics conference about HP's ongoing efforts to grow additive manufacturing into a $12 trillion manufacturing market.
"How do we get out of [3D printing] being 'I can make one part and two parts' into 'I can make 1,000 parts. I can make 10,000 parts. I can make a million parts?'" he asked the audience.
Woodlock said it is something HP and other industry stakeholders are going to have to figure out because "it's not really happening today."
"The way we're figuring it out is we are trying, we are learning," he said. "We're failing a lot, but really, most importantly, we're learning from our customers."
HP, which reported sales of $48.2 billion last year, is working with companies across several industries to identify manufacturing problems and find solutions that bring value to the market. In this case, the value happens to be in HP's Multi Jet Fusion technology, which it launched last year.
The technology includes two 3D printer models — HP Jet Fusion 3D 3200 and 4200 — as well as two synchronized tools, the HP Jet Fusion 3D Processing Station with fast cooling and the 3D Build Unit.
"[The 3D Build Unit] is what enables continuous production and allows you to get big throughput advances, your best utilization of capital," he said.
The 3200 is ideal for industrial prototyping and final part production in environments producing 130-299 parts per week, while the 4200 is ideal for producing 300-699 parts per week, the company said.
HP is also working with strategic partners such as BMW AG, Nike Inc. and Johnson & Johnson on rapid prototyping and production using additive manufacturing.
"We realized that manufacturing is not just about the printer," Woodlock said. "Manufacturing is an entire process, an entire workload, an entire end-to-end solution."