HP Inc., one of two successor companies to Hewlett-Packard, this month announced a few details on its much-anticipated venture into the 3D printing business.
Here are a few highlights:
- HP says it is the “world’s first production-ready 3D printing system”.
- The hardware will cost $130,000, a price that HP maintains is half what competitive systems cost.
- HP says its technology is 10 time faster than competitive 3D printers.
- Machine deliveries are expected to begin later this year.
You would think such a development would put a big stir in the stock prices of the top two players: Stratasys and 3D Systems. The stock price for both have actually gone up a bit since the HP announcement was made in mid-month.
Investors may feel that all of the hype being generated by HP is actually increasing awareness of 3D printing and will expand the market. Plus, the HP printer has a long, long way to go.
“Our 3D printing platform is unique in its ability to address over 340 million voxels per second, versus one point at a time, giving our prototyping and manufacturing partners radically faster build speeds, functional parts and breakthrough economics,” said Stephen Nigro, president of HP’s 3D printing business. “The new HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution delivers a combination of speed, quality, and cost never seen in the industry. Businesses and manufacturers can completely rethink how they design and deliver solutions to their customers.”
One of the companies that will beta test the printer is BMW.
“BMW is a pioneer and early adopter of innovative technologies in the field of additive manufacturing, especially for prototyping in concept cars and series-like approval builds. For our future roadmap toward serial part production and personal customization, we see major potential in our partnership with HP to investigate this new kind of 3D printing technology at an early stage. As one of the first partners, we had the chance to see the constant evolution of the machines over time from the first prototype approximately five years ago to the market ready product that is available now,” said Jens Ertel, head of the BMW Group Additive Manufacturing Center.
A few thoughts:
- HP must actually demonstrate that its machine can do what it says it can do. The machine will be beta tested by BMW, Nike, ProtoLabs and others.
- According to HP, its new printer can make parts in 12 to 15 hours compared to days for competitive systems. Well, 12 to 15 hours is not production speed. That’s about the amount of time it would take a small block of ice to melt on a May day in Wisconsin.
- Where are the materials? Right now, there are no production materials for the HP printer. Some thermoplastics are under development, but this can be a long process, particularly for production validation. By contrast, the new Arburg FreeFormer uses currently available resin.