Set to make a 3D announcement in June?
Update (25th March 4pm GMT): After stating that we'd see a 3D printing announcement in June, HP have backtracked on this statement and the Chief Technology Officer of HP Labs Martin Fink wrote on their blog:
"During our Annual Meeting of Stockholders on March 19, HP answered a shareholder question about our 3-D printing program and inadvertently stated that we would be making a technology announcement in June, when in fact we are planning to make that announcement by the end of our fiscal year (Oct 14)"
During a coffee break at SLM Solutions User Group Meeting the topic of consumer 3D printing was under scrutiny from the various experts. One esteemed opinion that seemed to get the nod from all was that HP will come to the market this year with a product that solves all the kinks that stop the technology adorning desktops across the country.
Less than 24 hours after that discussion Hewlett-Packard CEO, Meg Whitman told shareholders that HP will make a big 3D printing announcement in June and claims to have sold the speed and quality issues holding the technology back.
Whitman told the board that the current crop of 3D printers are so slow that, “it’s like watching ice melt” and that the quality of the prints are not what they should be.
“We believe we have solved both these problems and we’ll be making a big technology announcement in June around how we are going to approach this,” Whitman said.
Though HP will undoubtedly move into the consumer space eventually, Whitman did suggest that initially the firm will concentrate on “enterprise” 3D printing, which as we know is currently heading into Gartner’s ‘plateau of productivity’.
HP’s only folly previously came in the form of the rebadged U-Print by Stratasys and after that brief partnership ended it seems they’ve been working on ways to enter the market with what they see as a superior product.
It will be interesting to see which type of technology the machines use, whether they develop their own and where they are going to go. Initial thoughts seem to be that consumer access to these machines will be at the likes of UPS, FedEx and Staples.
In a recent interview Martin Fink, CTO and director of HP Labs, said the main reason HP is looking into the technology is the size of the market. “For one thing, the market size: The 3D printing market has shown an annual growth rate of +27% over the last three years. Worldwide sales of 3D printers and associated materials, software and services in 2012 was $2.2B and is expected to reach $10.8B by 2021.1 There is huge opportunity for 3D printing across a wide array of industries.”