3D Printing – The Next Big Thing for Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)


After years of research, planning, execution and evaluation, the Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)’s 3D printer is finally here. Many high hopes and expectations are tied to this launch. Analyst, Terry Wohlers predicts that this product has the capability of putting a few competitors out of business.

The layer by layer fusion of plastic to create an object has been a source of amazement as well as admiration. In recent years, it has been seen that pioneers like Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) and 3D Systems have come together to bring an end to speculations, and create a mainstream manufacturing technique. 3D printing is already a part of the auto and aviation industries, and recently dentistry and jewelry.

According to HP (NYSE:HPQ)’s head of printing and personal systems, Don Weisler, this innovation will create an industrial revolution.  For analysts at IDC International, global spending for 3D printers will round off to $2.7 billion this year, but expected growth in the long run is to be 29%. Whereas, according to Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) analysts, the expected annual growth is to be 34% or $20 billion worth of sales by 2020.

HP (NYSE:HPQ) chose to stick to its traditional inkjet technology for this project, as it has a proven track record worth billions. Recently, the HP (NYSE:HPQ) officials presented Forbes some inkjet print heads that were created by its engineers working in Barcelona and Spain. The scientists evaluated other 3D printing methods but concluded their own home grown method was the best to go on forward with. They can produce 3D print heads that operate 10,000 nozzles together, while tracking designs to five micron. With all this happening simultaneously, HP (NYSE:HPQ) officials believe their Multi Jet Fusion printer is the best option at the moment. It can also produce ten times faster than any machine available in the market currently. Hence, compared to selective laser sintering, which uses laser to heat and fuse the powder, HP (NYSE:HPQ)’s traditional methods are not only faster but cost effective as well.

According to Wohler Associates President, Terry Wohlers, HP (NYSE:HPQ)’s approach to fast output yet low costs will make it a market leader in 3D printing. Even though 3D printing will not be used at high volume, it will be required for sophisticated designs on smaller production run. However, it is projected to have many expansion opportunities.

At this stage, HP (NYSE:HPQ) hasn’t announced the prices for the machines, which are expected to go under a trail phase, with key customers for most of 2015, and will be available for sale worldwide in the beginning of 2016. The company’s objective, at this stage is to cater to big industrial users and services that run jobs for small businesses, instead of focusing at hobbyist or low end consumers. The market at this point has many industrial 3D printers at $150,000 to $500,000 a piece, HP (NYSE:HPQ) is aiming at a price with in the lower band as a way of attracting many customers to low cost and best quality 3D printing available.

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