GKN Powder Metallurgy’s recently announced strategic collaboration with HP Inc. will see the company become the first to deploy the newly-launched HP Metal Jet, HP’s first metal Additive Manufacturing system, into its factories for the production of functional metal parts for automotive and industrial applications.
Together with HP, GKN Powder Metallurgy stated that it is working toward the global industrialisation of AM. The HP Metal Jet is said to have the capability to increase its users’ productivity 50 fold, compared to other binder jet and selective laser melting AM methods, and is available at nearly half the cost of other binder jetting systems on the market.
The new technology is expected to enable GKN Powder Metallurgy to transform its future product development and traditional manufacturing by reducing time-to-market for mass-produced parts from months to weeks, lowering development costs and providing greater design and manufacturing flexibility.
Using HP’s Thermal Inkjet technology the HP Metal Jet system works by precisely depositing up to 630 million nanogram-sized drops per second of HP Binding Agent onto a bed of powder metal to build parts layer-by-layer. The system uses industry-standard Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) powders for reduced cost, and is said to offer the following key benefits:
- The 430 x 320 x 200 mm (16.9 x 12.6 x 7.9 in) build chamber allows users to produce either multiple small parts at the same time or a single large part per build
- Parts can be arranged freely in multiple levels in the powder bed to optimise packing density, productivity and cost
- No build plate is required during manufacturing
- Low-cost, high-quality final parts for serial production up to 100,000 parts
- 1200 x 1200 dpi addressability in a layer 50–100 µm thick
- Finished parts offer isotropic properties said to meet or exceed ASTM and MPIF Standards
- The materials used are highly reusable, reducing material cost and waste without compromising part quality
- Part density after sintering is reported to be > 93%, similar to that achieved by MIM
As the largest producer of powder metal parts worldwide, sintering 13 million components per day, GKN Powder Metallurgy stated that it is uniquely positioned to advance the development of binder jetting technology. By integrating the HP Metal Jet into its workflow across its plants, the company expects to leverage its metal expertise to engineer new powders based on customer needs and help them to design new components which were not previously possible.
“Our vision for Additive Manufacturing in the enterprise moves beyond prototypes and small-series production and into mass production. We see a future where every modern digital company will have a cutting-edge 3D printer in their facilities, enabled by GKN technology, design and support, to produce metal parts in 24 hours,” stated Peter Oberparleiter, CEO of GKN Powder Metallurgy.
“This strategic partnership with HP is the tipping point to accelerate that vision,” continued Oberparleiter. “Powder production and metal part processing are part of our DNA, and we have a long history of collaborating with customers and industrialising solutions that bring great benefits to the entire industry. As we join forces with HP, we want our customers to challenge us to break design barriers and accelerate the adoption of binder jetting technology as it is a wonderful compliment to our existing Additive Manufacturing technology offerings.”
GKN Powder Metallurgy has previously made substantial investments in the industrialisation of Additive Manufacturing, notably as the first automotive supplier to begin series production of metal AM parts, using the MetalFAB1 AM machine from Additive Industries. In the first half of 2019, customers will be able to receive industrial-grade AM parts in higher quantities from GKN Powder Metallurgy, the only partner using the HP Metal Jet within the automotive and industrial market until the machine becomes generally available in 2020.
GKN Powder Metallurgy consists of GKN Hoeganaes, GKN Sinter Metals and GKN Additive and provides powder materials, conventional components and Additive Manufacturing across thirty-four global locations.
Stephen Nigro, President of 3D Printing, HP Inc., added, “HP is proud to partner with GKN Powder Metallurgy to bring the power of 3D mass production to the largest industries on earth, such as the auto and industrial sectors. The combination of HP’s breakthrough Metal Jet technology and GKN’s engineering and manufacturing leadership promises to enable the production of millions of high-quality, low-cost 3D printed final parts.”