HP first announced that they would enter the 3D print market back in October 2014 but it was only this week that they had the official presentation of their first 3D printer. The launch happened at the RAPID 2016 3D print fair and has been the most awaited announcement in the industry over the last 18 months.
Why is there so much hype around this? HP is synonymous with 2D printing so it´s logical to think that sooner or later they would enter the 3D print market. They are one of the first multinationals to enter the 3D print market leveraging technology developed for the 2D print market with others like Canon expected to follow. They are bringing a product to market which is 10 times faster than the current competition. The price of this printer is less than a slower machine from their competitors. These statements mean that HP will have a dramatic effect on the 3D print industry with their new machine. This is however just the beginning.
Moving forward HP will offer the ability to print in colour with their printer and also more materials. They will be able to move faster here because they plan to let third parties offer materials for their printers. This moves away from the closed system seen today by other 3D printer manufacturers who often develop their own materials in-house and then charge a premium to the users of their printers for materials.
Within the next 2-3 years other technological advances will follow, not just from HP or the new fast printer expected to be released by CLIP but from new entrants and also from current incumbents. HP´s entry means that 3D Systems, Stratasys and others will need to raise their game. The new HP printers will mean that customer´s, who had previously discounted 3D printing due to cost, speed or quality issues may now become 3D print customers.
This week’s announcement is one of the key announcements in 3D printer history. It marks a new chapter for the industry and may in retrospect be seen as the key moment that allows 3D printing to start to become a mainstream manufacturing method.