HP Design Contest Hopes to Spark Color 3D Print Revolution

Following the debut of HP’s Jet Fusion 580 printer, the company hopes to generate new industrial use cases for color 3D printing.

Following the debut of HP’s Jet Fusion 580 printer, the company hopes to generate new industrial use cases for color 3D printing.

Anatomically-accurate surgical models are an emerging use case for color 3D printing. Image courtesy of HP.

HP is positive that color 3D printing is going to be among the “next big things” in what many hail as the 4th Industrial Revolution. Now it’s sponsoring a design contest to spark ideas for potential applications that will help accelerate adoption of fledging 3D printing technology.

The HP 3D Print Design Competition challenges contenders to come up with a functional color design that showcases how color can be leveraged in a way that increases or expands a product’s desired functionality. HP is hoping the contest will spark a wave of ideation that puts the possibilities of color 3D printing on the map for product designers and engineers beyond simple use of color for esthetic purposes.

David Woodlock, HP’s market development manager, likens the inflection point for color 3D printing to decades ago when HP first brought color printing into the home. At the time, Woodlock says there weren’t well-established use cases for color, but left to their own devices, consumers and industry came up with many, including printing color photographs. “Color 3D printing is an unknown, a capability yet to be discovered,” he says. “We want to get more people thinking about the problem. It’s an answer looking for a question.”

Rather than using color to beautify a 3D printed object, HP is hoping the design contest sparks some thinking about how to leverage color for serious industrial or business applications. Already, color 3D printing is being readily embraced by pioneers in the medical and health care field as a way to create life-like, anatomical models to help surgeons prepare for difficult operations. Manufacturers are experimenting with use of color in 3D prints to customize product designs and as a vehicle for conveying more information on fixtures to workers on the plant floor.

For example, instead of relying on manual instructions strung up in plastic sleeves on the shop floor, manufacturers could use color 3D printing techniques to integrate readily accessible instructions directly onto a fixture. “Color can help with information conveyance,” Woodlock says, explaining that if a worker were to see green, they know they’ve performed a specific task properly; if red appears, that operation is not considered complete. “Displaying that information exactly where it’s needed in a factory setting can help minimize defects,” he says.

The Jet Fusion 580 enables manufacturers to produce engineering-grade functional parts in full color or black and white with voxel-level control. Image Courtesy of HP

The Jet Fusion 580 enables manufacturers to produce engineering-grade functional parts in full color or black and white with voxel-level control. Image courtesy of HP.

The contest comes on the heels of HP’s recent launch of the Jet Fusion 580 multi-color 3D printer, which enables manufacturers to produce engineering-grade functional parts in full color or black and white with voxel-level control. The Jet Fusion 580 supports a complete range of colors, and HP claims it can print parts up to 10 times faster than standard FDM and SLS printers on the market.

Watch this webinar to learn more about HP’s Multi Jet Fusion color technology.

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Beth Stackpole

Beth Stackpole is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@digitaleng.news.

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