HP plans 3D printer announcement for June
There’s a lot of “buzz and hype” around 3D printing, but the systems available now have two big challenges, Whitman said at HP’s shareholder meeting. One is that they’re deathly slow.
“It’s like watching ice melt,” she said.
The other, according to Whitman, is that the quality isn’t as good as it should be. “The surface of the substrate is not perfect,” she said.
“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.
That doesn’t mean HP will release products at that time, but it implies the company will show what it’s working on and where it’s heading.
Whitman said it will target the business market first, where it thinks there’s demand for systems that can be used to print prototypes and finished products.
HP knows printing, but can they win with 3D Printing? (Full disclosure, I used to at HP, in the Imaging and Printing division, several years ago.) They have a lot of tech and understanding in printing technology. (Their LaserJet and InkJet printers are the most profitable IT products EVER!) They probably also have a lot of IP that will help them in this space.
But the fact that this is yet another B2B Enterprise play, is worrying to me. Yes, 3D Printing as a service will be where the majority of this market is headed, but the innovation and use cases is driven by the hackers and makers. By targeting B2B, they’ll never get ahead of this trend and will forever be chasing it. Unless they come out with something truly revolutionary, like multi-material, complex printing, at a fraction of the current cost, I wouldn’t expect HP to be a major player in this space. They haven’t even been able to get ahead of electrical conducting printing (circuits) by hacking an ink-jet printer. Why didn’t HP do that?