It’s 3:00 pm at HP’s new 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing Center of Excellence near Barcelona, Spain, and Metal Jet program manager Carmen Blasco is leading the project’s daily status meeting. Speaking in both Spanish and English, a team of around 20 engineers report on tests they’re running on HP’s cutting-edge industrial Jet Fusion 3D printers. Behind them, visible through a wall of windows, is the Metals lab where workers outfitted in white coats, gloves, and masks hover over the enormous, state-of-the-art machines.
Anywhere from 12 to 30 tests per day are run on the six printers, measuring everything from the efficacy of the metal powder to the density and cooling of the parts, to the accuracy of the final forms. The Metal Jet program counts high-profile clients such as GKN Powder Metallurgy and Volkswagen — which means there’s a lot riding on the shoulders of the 33-year-old Blasco.
On a typical morning she commutes from Barcelona to the 150,000-square-foot Center in the northern suburb Sant Cugat del Vallès. The three-plus acre facility, constructed using eco-friendly building materials, was designed with sustainability in mind and with the goal of achieving LEED certification. To maximize Barcelona’s near-constant sun, a photovoltaic canopy provides 110 kilowatt hours of power; additionally, rainwater is captured and reused for irrigation purposes and native plants are used for landscaping. In contrast to the shiny new building, an 18th-century farmhouse, Can Graells, stands nearby — a remnant from when the area was once farms and vineyards. In cooperation with the local city council, HP fully restored it and is still deciding what it will be used for. Inside the two-story Center of Excellence, natural light filters in through skylights and vertical wall gardens add a welcome touch of greenery.