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HP to launch new technology based 3D printers in summer 2014

by Mark Tyson on 24 October 2013, 12:30

Tags: Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qab4d5

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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.



HEXUS Forums :: 21 Comments

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Could help speed up price drops so very interesting development indeed. To be honest though - 8 hours print times don't bother me - I wouldn't do a lot anyway. Its the £800+ purchase price that does!
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.

Speed and cost probably isn't necessarily a showstopper issue for in-house commercial use - just regard it as an "overnight batch" kind of deal, and there's plenty of folks buying them now for prototyping.

Personally, I think the smart idea would be to go for the cost aspect and see if they can't make something more appealing to the man-in-the-street. After all, if Tom down the road has one of those 3D printers, then it's a darn sight easier to justify buying one for the office to the pointy-haired-boss surely?

If memory serves, the Maplin-sold device was £600-700, so surely something in the £400-500 range would be a notable improvement. And that's about the same price as an iPad, so not ridiculous?

That said, I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy one any time soon. But it's interesting though.
I doubt that the printers will use any 'new technology', but rather take advantage of the Stratasys FDM patents that expired recently.
I can only imagine how much they will charge for refills! ;)
At £400 with a decent maximum part size I'd be very tempted by this. I've lost count of the number of times I've had to resort to random bits of bent meccano or something when a part printed up on a printer would be much more suitable. Particularly if you could easily embed sex bolts into them.