Shapeways has established themselves as a leader in on-demand 3D printing services. With a community of over 40,000 shops and more than 600,000 items that you can browse, customize, and purchase right now, their impact on the market makes them a great place to try new materials and methods of 3D printing. Today, Shapeways has announced that they are teaming up with HP to give their community access to HP’s new Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology.
When a major company like HP enters the 3D printing market by announcing a new way of printing, it can create quite a buzz, and for the past year since announcing their new system, the industry has been following closely. Multi Jet Fusion promises fast, multi-material, multi-color, production ready parts. While Shapeways will only be starting to offer parts in one material and two finishes, more options will be coming down the road. This first offering is PA 12, a nylon material that features high strength and toughness, making it perfect for parts that will experience use, not just show pieces.
The core difference between HP’s Multi Jet Fusion process and those of other 3D printing processes like FDM or SLS is that entire layers are completed in two passes rather than tracing over the entire part. Similar to an SLS, the Multi Jet Fusion printer lays down a thin layer of powdered material, then follows along with a system that sprays not only an ink fusing agent but also a detailing agent to ensure clean edges and crisp detail. During that same pass, the heating element also passes over the parts, fusing only the sections of powder that have had agents applied to them. A second pass completes the layer, ensuring the part is fully sintered before the next layer of material is applied to the print. This process of applying agents and fusing at the same time is what allows these printers to attain such high printing speeds compared to other systems.
Getting access to one of these machines would be very difficult for most makers under normal circumstances, but with Shapeways providing access, designers can start taking advantage of this new tech to expand the possibilities of their projects. For those who want to be in on the ground floor, Shapeways has started a sign up page for early access.