GKN Powder Metallurgy will be the first manufacturer to install and operate a new binder-jet additive manufacturing technology developed by HP Inc., to produce “functional metal parts” for Volkswagen and Wilo, a pumps manufacturer. The GKN unit and HP described their new arrangement as “a strategic collaboration.”
GKN Powder Metallurgy will be the only company using the new HP Metal Jet process to produce automotive and industrial parts until the machine is available to the general market in 2020.
For now, HP Metal Jet is optimized to produce stainless steel parts, but other alloys will be introduced in the future.
“Our vision for additive manufacturing in the enterprise moves beyond prototypes and small-series production and into mass production," said Peter Oberparleiter, CEO of GKN Powder Metallurgy. “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. This strategic partnership with HP is the tipping point to accelerate that vision,” said Peter Oberparleiter, CEO of GKN Powder Metallurgy.
HP Metal Jet, introduced at IMTS 2018, is described as "a paradigm shift" in metal 3D printing, with greater productivity ("up to 50-fold") compared to other 3D printing methods, at nearly half the cost of other binder jetting systems. It is said to be similar to HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology for printing plastic parts.
Working on a 430x320x200-mm bed of powdered metal, six printer heads deposit a binder according to the pattern set by the part’s CAD design. Next, an “energy source” melts successive layers of the metal into a three-dimensional part. In a subsequent step, the part is sintered into its final state.
In first half of 2019, customers will be able to receive industrial-grade parts in higher quantities. GKN will produce parts using HP Metal Jet to ensure the highest standards of engineering and production quality.
“Powder production and metal part processing are part of our DNA, and we have a long history of collaborating with customers and industrializing solutions that bring great benefits to the entire industry,” Oberpartleiter added. “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 complement to our existing additive manufacturing technology offerings.”