Seeking to exploit a “late mover advantage” HP says they will be entering the 3D printer market during the third quarter for 2016 with models shipping by the end of 2016. They say they have held back from entering the market until they felt the company had a “significant market advantage”.
And held back they have – it’s been about two years since they last mentioned 3D printing on their product roadmap. Since then, the old HP has split into HP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the new company seems to be adopting a more dynamic posture in the market.
HP boasts that they will have the fastest 3D printers in the market with the least expensive consumables and parts. But unlike the Cocoon Create 3D printer sold through Aldi earlier this year, HP is not specifically targeting the home market. They see the big opportunity as being in commercial markets such as manufacturing and specific vertical sectors such as aerospace and healthcare.
HP has been developing Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing technology. This is a full-color 3D printing process, and its claimed MJF is up to ten times faster than current 3D printing systems and much cheaper than most of the industrial 3D printers currently available. MJF is based on their existing, high resolution 2D thermal inkjet technology.
According to reports, the MJF 3D printing process will result in parts that strength and finish of injection molded products by applying multiple binding and curing agents using thermal inkjet arrays. The arrays are so accurate they can apply the fusing agent to specific points on the part that need the greatest strength while applying a detailing agent that can produce varied textures and finishes.
For users of 3D printers, one of the key issues is the cost of consumables. HP hasn’t yet settled on a pricing model. Depending on the customer they may elect to offer either a traditional printer model where the customer purchases the hardware and then pays for consumables as they go or adopt the “copier” model where the cost of the device is wrapped up in a “per piece” charge.
Anthony Caruana attended HP’s printer launch event in Macau as a guest of HP.