Mcor still Beats HP and Stratasys on full colour 3D Printing
Last week HP launched its 3D printing offering and officially made its début in the 3D printing industry at RAPID 2016. Even though when initial news broke in 2014 about their entry into the market, HP did outline their new platform and its capabilities, there was still a lot of anticipation about what the system would actually have to offer. I was personally interested in whether it would stack up to the hype and expectations!
So what was announced on May 17th?
The MJF platform – two in total. The process is the same for both but they come in different sizes — the HP Jet Fusion 3200 (for rapid prototyping) and 4200 (for short-run production). Like they had promised it is clear that they are going down the road of industrial 3D printing and steering clear of the desktop market which they had dabbled in through their partnership with Stratasys some years back.
Now let’s look at what MJF 3D Printing claims – ‘advancing the industry’ with ‘improved print speed (10 times faster than what is on the market today) and part quality’, ‘new colour capabilities’ and ‘reduced energy and waste’ — all at a significantly lower cost of ownership.
So what about the “breakthrough speed” claim of ‘producing more parts per day with continuous printing and fast cooling’. However we learned at launch that it is only the actual 3D printer platform that is commercially available right now, and you need “an additional” one of them for continuous printing. For the fast cooling you need ancillary equipment — the HP Jet Fusion 3D Processing Station — which will not be available until 2017. Not exactly what it had said on the tin!
Of course we were most interested in their colour claims. Surprisingly neither system offers full colour! So for all HP’s colour science expertise and full colour capabilities in traditional 2D printing we would have expected full colour to be central to their offering but for now it is a mono printer.
Currently Stratasys have been working hard in this space and recently launched a premier addition to the Objet Connex multi-colour series of 3D printers. This printer allows customers to choose from 360,000 colour shades.
To put this in context our new Mcor ARKe desktop 3D printer incorporates an inkjet print head which provides a DPI of 4800 x 2400. In terms of colours we can print 2 million colours – the most colour with the highest accuracy on the market. This is a significant difference and puts us on top in terms of full colour 3D printing capability ahead of Stratasys and HP – and not only that it’s colour right on your desktop!
Although the launch of the HP printer is good for our industry as a whole – it essentially raises all the boats in the water but I believe it falls short somewhat on what was originally promised. Having said that I do think it will find its place in the industry but it won’t be a slam dunk for every application. HP has arrived but I don’t think their arrival will have as dramatic an influence as people may have thought!
And all in all it is clear that we still beat HP and Stratasys on full colour 3D printing and clearly own this space in our industry!