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Ft. Collins, CO
HP Workstations And Research Lab In Fort Collins

By TJ McCueMonday, December 1, 2014

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In early May, the 3DRV made its first official stop – at HP Labs in Fort Collins, Colorado to visit with Sean Young in the Workstations division. As one of our premier sponsors, HP loaned us some seriously powerful gear – a Z1 workstation and a ZBook 15, both loaded with fast, fast, fast Nvidia graphics cards (Quadro K2100M for the ZBook 15 and Quadro K4100M (4 GB) for the Z1).

We learned a ton on that short visit and asked if we could make a second visit to the HP Workstations team and HP Labs as we made our way back West, enroute to Autodesk University (AU), to see even more of the inner workings of how HP builds its high quality machines. They took us around this time to see how they conduct all those tests.

We spent the afternoon talking to the materials lab, the 10 meter testing chamber, the Hardware Turn On lab (if you have ever seen one of those IKEA cabinet testers, you will get the idea), and more. The 10 meter testing chamber, which is quite unique, sci-fi looking, is required by the FCC and other regulatory agencies around the world, so that HP (or any electronic/computer manufacturer) can ensure their equipment does not interfere with licensed communications.

Each stop was amazingly cool, but I had the most fun in the materials lab. As you can see in this short video, the materials lab gets to look inside components and parts of computers to determine if the material thicknesses are correct, among a myriad of other things they can check. 

One of the reasons it was a lot of fun for me was because I had been to the Ford Motor Company materials research department and I had an unusual material of plastic and another material in my bag that Ford was testing and gave me as a sample. It made for an interesting conversation, for sure. Materials research, if you weren’t aware, is a big part of what’s happening in 3D design and 3D printing.

All of the research that HP conducts is done to make sure that their machines operate with great reliability, in almost any environment, with users like me, who beat their gear up while driving 15,000-plus miles around the USA. Okay, maybe I’m an exception to the rule, but they originally created some of their tests by loading some test and measurement gear in a parcel delivery vehicle (I won’t say which one) to see how many shocks and bumps an average delivery ride might entail.

HP has been and continues to be an awesome partner for our 3D explorations – we find them in many of our stops where computing power and speed matter to a company. I’m particularly fond of the way they build machines now with tool-less removal, that is, you can pull the hard drive and other components with no tools. That isn’t a new idea, but it is terrific when you’re in a hurry and need to swap something out.

The last very cool thing you should know – is you can find us doing some demonstrations of the newest HP computer – the Sprout, at AU in Booth 300. You don’t really need to know the booth number: We’ll be the folks in the rather large blue bus… The Jayco RV wrapped in blue. We have several demo times on Tuesday evening (Dec 2), so come by to see what HP is doing with 3D computing. The HP Sprout is seriously amazing.

Follow along at! #3DRV

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