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3D Printer from HP

April 4, 2010

Filed under: additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 07:24

In January, it was announced that Stratasys would manufacture a 3D printer for Hewlett-Packard, a product that would carry the HP brand. The announcement got a lot of attention because few large, well-known companies have entered this business. HP will initially target mechanical designers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK with the new product. If the roll-out goes well, HP expects to sell the product in other countries.

For many years, industry observers have considered the idea of a large document printer company getting into the 3D printer business. As developed as some additive manufacturing (AM) companies have become, none touch the name recognition or the marketing force of HP, a $114 billion conglomerate.

Will HP’s involvement help grow the market and industry? It certainly should. The company has reach that’s beyond anything else in the AM industry. Will the partnership be successful? I believe there’s a good chance of success, but there’s no guarantee, especially in these uncertain times. It’s difficult to know what might be ahead for any company, large or small.

In March 2001, Xerox Engineering Systems, a subsidiary of Xerox Corp., announced that it had formed a partnership with Z Corp. to promote and sell Z Corp.’s 3D printers in the U.S. One month later, Z Corp. reported that Xerox employees had completed training in the Chicago and Detroit areas and “all systems were go.” A short time later, changes in Xerox upper management caused the deal to unravel.