'The dream is here': Guayente Sanmartin reflects on the HP 3D printing story so

3D printing news

Guayente Sanmartin, Global Head of HP’s Multi Jet Fusion business

When just six short years ago, HP laid out its plans to break into the $12 trillion manufacturing market with a new 3D printing technology, its ambitions, while backed by a brand known for its success elsewhere in the printing arena, seemed, well, ambitious.

The rise of HP’s success in the AM industry can be charted not only by its product launches and a growing list of partners and installations, but more importantly, in the number of parts printed on those machines. In 2018, the company reported a total of 3.5 million parts producedusing its Multi Jet Fusion technology since its launch, 50% of which were for end-use applications, some even destined for its own 3D printers. A year later, that number shot to over 10 million. Today, it’s 100 million plus. While that might seem like small change to the wider, subtractive manufacturing industry, for those optimised, customised, small-to-mid run parts where AM truly shines, suddenly, those ambitions don’t seem so steep.

“We are already in production so the dream is here,” Guayente Sanmartin, Global Head of HP’s Multi Jet Fusion business told TCT in a recent conversation at Formnext. “Can we dream bigger? Yes. That’s why we're going to be continuing to disrupt technologies in industries where we want to participate, not only from the printing side, but disrupting entire industries. But also continue disrupting with our partners and customers [for other] industries in plastic and metal. So the dream is still big. We want to be bigger.”

We meet in a cafe away from the bustle of the Formnext show floor where Sanmartin is holding a small 3D printed heart in her hand, a gift from a female-owned business, she tells me. Her enthusiasm for this trinket, characterised by its only-3D printable lattice and the customer story behind it, encapsulates why Sanmartin has found herself in this sector. Sanmartin has witnessed HP’s ascent in the AM market from both inside and outside of the walls of its Barcelona 3D printing HQ. Having started with HP as an intern over two decades ago, travelling all over the world in various roles, leading teams from engineering to services, Sanmartin says her move into HP’s AM business aligned with a personal mission to work with a technology that could make an impact in three key areas.

“The impact on HP, so bringing revenue and growth and transformation,” Sanmartin explained, “Impact on the people around me, my partners, internal and external, make sure the 3D organisation grows, personally and as an organisation, we become better and more productive and happy. And then the third thing was the impact on the society.”


HP Jet Fusion 5200

It should come as no surprise then that one of the areas exciting Sanmartin most right now is the adoption of HP’s technology in healthcare. She points to applications such as personalised surgical guides, and the rapid manuacture of face shields in the early months of the pandemic as 3D printer users rallied to produce much-needed PPE for local hospitals and key workers. In the UK alone, 50,000 face shields, mask adjustors and hands-free door openers were manufactured with the help of HP’s Jet Fusion technology deployed by service providers and universities.

“What I am excited about personally may not be the thing that grows the most,” Sanmartin said. “What excites me more is those segments that are growing, that are on the tipping point for maximising our business short term. So we're doing a lot of things in healthcare, as well as industrial, consumer goods and automotive. Like in mobility and the auto sector, now with electrical cars, we're seeing big demand for additive manufacturing parts and Multi Jet Fusion because we are the best in AM production for quality, reliability, speed and cost.”

The key, Sanmartin says, has been focusing on the pain points AM can offer a solution to and understand the opportunities to - here’s that word - “transform or disrupt,” whether that’s beating out injection moulding on speed or improving patient outcomes with reduced treatment times and personalised care. Recent application examples include Multi Jet Fusion user Glaze Prosthetics which is now able to produce and deliver customised products within 1-2 weeks after bringing its prosthetic arm production process in-house, or Nissan which, through a collaboration with SOLIZE Corporation, has been using HP’s technology for the on-demand production of discontinued replacement parts for its NISMO Heritage Parts programme. At Formnext, HP also announced L’Oreal as one of its latest customers. The cosmetics company is using Multi Jet Fusion to create new packaging and customised products, including adjustable manufacturing ‘pucks’ which are said to have allowed L’Oreal to convey, fill, and label its products with better agility, resulting in a 33% reduction in cost and 66% reduction in time.

“We're working with them in two aspects,” Sanmartin said. “One is for their manufacturing lines which Multi Jet Fusion is very suited for and we are also exploring, as we do with other customers, applications that go beyond industrial tooling. […] We love to have such a massive brand and innovator willing to rethink their products with Multi Jet Fusion.”

L’Oreal plans to scale its production across HP’s Digital Manufacturing Network, which recently secured more than 30 new certified providers (or Multi Jet Fusion Production Professionals), to deliver qualified local production services. This distributed manufacturing network supports stats presented by HP last year, bolstered by ongoing conversations around supply chain disruption, which surveyed more than 2,000 AM and digital manufacturing professionals and found that 79% felt AM was a viable alternative to traditional manufacturing, while 75% suggested that 3D printing may be used as a back-up to traditional means.

“When you go into production of parts, not everybody is ready to jump into buying the machines, yet theywant to have a solution for repeatability and industrialisation,” Sanmartin said of the demand for certified production partners like Forecast 3D, Jawstec and Weerg. “So what are we doing for those customers? […] We’re linking a customer that needs parts with a production partner and HP is helping to create demand, the network is an ecosystem accelerating AM production.”

While HP’s success so far has been centred around polymers, its next frontier is metals. HP’s Metal Jet technology, a binder jet-based metal 3D printing process, made its debut in 2018 alongside manufacturing partners GKN Powder Metallurgy and Parmatech. The aim was to put the technology to work before releasing machines onto the market, but according to Ramon Pastor, Global Head of HP’s 3D metals business, the company is “on track to launch in 2022.” Customers like Cobra Golf have used the technology to produce customised equipment, and earlier this year, HP shared how the US Marine Corps had 3D printed 200 spare parts for its Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) via Parmatech. Meanwhile, Volkswagen has set itself a target of producing 100,000 additively manufactured components at its Wolfsburg facility each year by 2025, and is now using the technology to produce final parts, which weigh almost 50% less than conventional components, for the A pillar of its T-Roc Cabriolet. Could a 100 million printed metal part milestone be such a stretch?

“HP’s 3D printing platforms have been optimised for industrial production, both plastics and metals,” Sanmartin said. “Like Multi Jet Fusion, our metals technology leverages HP’s fundamental printing IP to deliver critical benefits for our customers. 3D metals manufacturing is more complex, so the ability to offer an industrial solution that meets the demands for the production of 100 million parts is not easy, but the Metal Jet team is doing amazing things with our customers.”


HP Metal Jet Cobra golf

Cobra Golf has adopted HP Metal Jet to achieve smarter designs and increased performance.

As we close our conversation, Sanmartin is on her way to a meet-up organised by Women in 3D Printing, a non-profit that promotes women leaders in the AM industry. It’s a personal passion and Sanmartin remarks how “lucky” she feels “to work in a company that gives women, everyone, a lot of opportunity.” Sanmartin defines herself using five key pillars - or hashtags, as she refers to them - family, customer innovation process, strategy to execution (noting a preference for getting immersed with R&D and managing teams), people-first, and finally, a “woman-believer.”

“In my spare time, which now in this new role with onboarding I don't have [much of], but I like to develop and help other women,” Sanmartin said. “Whatever it is. Not everybody needs to be a general manager. What I want is for them to enjoy their professional life.”

Looking ahead, Sanmartin is confident in HP’s ability to lead the space, suggesting that the company has already become “the leader in industrial thermoplastics in only five years,” and for HP, that 100 million parts milestone serves as an important proof point. Now, Sanmartin says while HP was patient and worked behind the scenes for a good two decades before they joined the 3D printing race, the company is committed to staying “ahead of everyone else”, particularly as the adoption of AM in production continues to grow.

“We're happy because this is a market where there is a space for everyone,” elaborated Sanmartin. “We are committed to lead. We are committed to production centred on the customer, segment pain points, selecting and focusing on those problems that we can solve with our technology, delivering part quality and system repeatability.”

Sanmartin adds that HP’s Jet Fusion 5200 system, the most advanced iteration of its polymer Multi Jet Fusion technology, is “the right platform” for production and hints at upcoming upgrades which will provide improved repeatability and part quality, in addition to enhancements to automation, digital workflows and professional services through additional collaborations.

Sanmartin concludes: “We believe in the future for production and we are here doing it.”

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