Jessie Frazelle is the cofounder and chief product officer of the Oxide Computer Company. Before that, she worked on various parts of Linux, including containers, and the Go programming language. More online: A version of this article with embedded informational links is availble at https://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id 3430113
ORLANDO--Hewlett-Packard today began taking orders for its first 3D printer, the HP Jet Fusion printer, which it said will be up to 10 times faster than existing machines and can cut the cost of manufacturing parts in half. At the RAPID 3D additive manufacturing conference here, HP revealed two models: the lower-cost and lower production 3200 series and the 4200 series, for which it is now taking orders. The 4200 series will begin shipping to manufacturers in October; the 3200 series will be available in mid-2017. HP originally unveiled its Jet Fusion printer in October 2014. HPs 4200 series Jet Fusion printer (left) and post processing station.
It's less than two months before his company's initial product launch, and CEO Ric Fulop is excitedly showing off rows of stripped-down 3-D printers, several bulky microwave furnaces, and assorted small metal objects on a table for display. Behind a closed door, a team of industrial designers sit around a shared work desk, each facing a large screen. The wall behind them is papered with various possible looks for the startup's ambitious products: 3-D printers that can fabricate metal parts cheaply and quickly enough to make the technology practical for widespread use in product design and manufacturing. The company, Desktop Metal, has raised nearly $100 million from leading venture capital firms and the venture units of such companies as General Electric, BMW, and Alphabet. The founders include four prominent MIT professors, including the head of the school's department of materials science and Emanuel Sachs, who filed one of the original patents on 3-D printing in 1989.
When you think about 3-D printing, chances are you think of little plastic doodads created by desktop devices like those made by MakerBot. Computing and printer giant HP wants you to think about metal. Today the company announced the Metal Jet printer, an industrial-scale 3-D printer that builds items not of plastic but of steel. HP is trying to change that. In 2016, it launched its Jet Fusion plastic 3-D printer, designed for mass production rather than one-off printing.
Factories, the chief innovation of the industrial revolution, are cathedrals of productivity, built to shelter specialized processes and encourage the division of labor. Adam Smith, who illuminated their function on the first page of The Wealth of Nations, offered the celebrated example of a pin factory: "I have a seen a small manufactory… where ten men only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations. But the benefits of factories suggest their limitations. They are not reprogrammable: To make different products, a factory must retool with different machines. Thus, the first product shipped is much more expensive than the next million, and innovation is hobbled by need for capital expenditure and is never rapid.