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HP’s industrial 3D printing equipment leads to faster design, iteration, and production

The APCC's use of HP Multi Jet Fusion spotlights 3D printing's impact on the manufacturing industry.

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Industry

Industrial: Machinery and equipment

Challenge

To adopt a technology that can keep up with demand and adapt to frequent changes in production.

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Results

HP Multi Jet Fusion technology enables the APCC to iterate part designs quickly and package HP Inkjet Supplies in high volumes.

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Material

HP 3D High Reusability1 PA 12

Technology

HP Multi Jet Fusion technology

HP Jet Fusion 4200 3D Printer

CHALLENGE

Frequently changing production needs

HP Inc.’s Americas Product Completion Center (APCC) in Richmond, Virginia, packages HP Inkjet supplies and prepares them for shipping to destinations in North and South America. 

 

As one of four centers that perform these operations worldwide, the APCC receives bulk Inkjet cartridges from factories, packages them for retail, and adapts the packaging for the specific regions that it supports, which in this case includes North and South America. 

 

The center is not only a machinery line runner but also a manufacturer that plans and designs the production lines and produces the parts therein.

The completion center consists of 19 packaging lines that undergo frequent changeovers and adaptations depending on production requirements. Engineers at the APCC plan and design the packaging lines and often need both support parts for line changes as well as spare and replacement parts.

 

In order to package HP Inkjet Supplies in high volumes, the APCC searched for a technology that could keep up with demand and adapt to frequent changes in production (e.g., different packaging sizes for different products). 

 

They also identified metal parts as part of their machinery that they could potentially replace with lighter weight parts.

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“We went looking to see if additive manufacturing could play a beneficial role for us in our operation and help improve efficiency and take some cost out. As an ops manager, we’re always looking for ways to improve our costs and the speed with which we respond to needs for new capabilities and ways to keep the factory running.”

Paul McArdle, Engineering Project Manager for HP Inc. 

SOLUTION

Testing 3D printed tooling

The APCC started with fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing technology, but after a few test rounds, they realized they needed something more dependable and more capable of producing parts at volume as well as to realize ideas they had for manufacturing tools.

 

"There was one particular project that we had in mind for installing a brand-new conveyor to help us introduce a fleet of new robots to one of our manual packaging lines," McArdle explained. "We purchased a small FDM printer to see if additive would be something of benefit for us in terms of cost." 

 

"We found out soon that FDM was going to be way, way too slow and too unreliable for us to keep this project on schedule. It was going to take several months at best to print all the parts we needed."

When the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution was announced, McArdle took great interest in the technology: "I looked at it [HP 3D Printing] pretty soon after HP launched it to see if there was a need or a justification for getting a printer like that into our operation."

 

An APCC engineering intern at the time, Josh Almeter was tasked with proposing a list of technologies that would be most efficient in meeting the factory’s production needs, and after he pitched HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, McArdle chose to procure their first HP Jet Fusion 4200 3D Printing Solution in November 2017.

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RESULTS

Transition to in-house industrial 3D printing equipment

Once the APCC was using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology to create their own parts rather than continuing to purchase them or rely on outsourcing, their use of the technology evolved to designing and developing new 3D printed industrial parts. 

 

With 3D printing, the APCC incorporated cobots and delta robots as well as new conveyor lugs into two manufacturing lines that had previously been manually operated.

The APCC now uses the technology for prototyping, final-part production, 3D printed custom replacement parts, and to produce jigs, fixtures, and tooling for their machines, which fall into five categories: conveyor belt parts, end-of-arm tooling, spare parts, break-and-fix parts, and jigs and fixtures. 

 

Thousands of 3D printed parts later, HP Multi Jet Fusion technology has become an integral part in the APCC’s manufacturing processes.

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Impact on manufacturing

Improved productivity

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  1. HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solutions using HP 3D High Reusability PA 12 provide up to 80% powder reusability ratio, producing functional parts batch after batch. For testing, material is aged in real printing conditions and powder is tracked by generations (worst case for reusability). Parts are then made from each generation and tested for mechanical properties and accuracy.