Hewlett Packard has been a big player in the printer market for a long time. Now HP CEO Meg Whitman has confirmed that the company aims to be a major supplier of 3D printing equipment. HP will re-enter the 3D printer market in mid 2014 aiming to bring to market a product which is much faster and cheaper than current 3D printing peripheral offerings.
Speaking at the Canalys Channels Forum in Bangkok, the HP CEO said that the company is excited about the 3D printing industry. The manufacture of such printers is a natural progression for HP given its history making printers. “We want to lead this business. HP labs is looking at it,” said Whitman. The HP CEO said that the 3D printing industry is in its infancy, saying it is “a big opportunity and we are all over it,” before adding a timescale to our expectations; “we will have something by the middle of next year”.
What do the HP labs need to look at and to improve upon? Well, we have looked at many new 3D printers in the news over the last year or so and the common comments or complaints concern the speed of the devices, their cost and the resolution (or lack or resolution) of the finished printed item. Whitman talked directly about the speed and cost issues; “To print a bottle can take eight to ten hours. That's all very interesting, but it is like watching ice melt,” she said. Whitman also indicated that “lower price points,” are being looked at as well as supporting commercial bureaux to commercialise fast 3D printing services.
Whitman would only reveal that to address the current speed/price issues of 3D printing the company would employ “new technology”. The HP CEO doesn’t expect 3D printing to become incredibly popular all-of-a-sudden but expects take-up and adoption of such devices to enjoy a big boost around three years from now.
HP DesignJet 3D output
HP previously made available a 3D printer - in spring of 2010 the HP Designjet 3D was launched and it was basically a rebadged device made by Stratasys. This bulky peripheral was priced at around US$17,000.