Up until this year, the tranquil 3D printing pond had its own fish drama. More recently, bigger fish like 3D Systems (Market Cap: 3.81B) might try to devour little fish like Formlabs, Stratasys (Market Cap: 4.93B) did devour Makerbot and is trying to eat up some other guppies, as well. But, over the past year or so, the small bit of land mass dividing that little pond and the raging currents of the mainstream has slowly begun to erode. Autodesk (Market Cap: 13.82B), for instance, announced the development of their own 3D printer, Ember, and 3D printing software, Spark. Then, just over a month ago, HP (Market Cap: 72.42B) broke that last bit of land separating the pond and the mainstream once and for all by announcing their Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing system and Sprout blended reality desktop computer. And, today, Autodesk and HP have announced a partnership that sees Spark join with Multi Jet Fusion, as the waters of the mainstream go roaring past 3D printing’s smaller players.
In a blogpost at Autodesk’s Spark website, VP and GM of Autodesk’s Consumer and 3D Printing wing, Samir Hanna, and Scott Schiller, WW Business Director at HP’s 3D Printing division, have announced that the Multi Jet Fusion platform will be rely on the Spark 3D printing software. The duo write:
Autodesk and HP have worked together for a long time. We share a vision to drive technology innovation and provide the best products and experiences to our customers. Today, Autodesk and HP expand the alignment of our offerings to push 3D printing forward and drive toward a new industrial revolution that changes the way we design and manufacture things. We have a common goal to unlock 3D printing’s full promise such as higher speeds, higher quality, and improved reliability. Thus, HP is adopting Spark to integrate it with HP’s Multi Jet Fusion platform.
Spark provides the building blocks for hardware manufacturers, software developers and materials scientists to continue to explore the limits of 3D printing technology. This helps open the innovation potential of the Multi Jet Fusion printer by allowing users to access a rich palette of sophisticated tools such as constraint based design to create and produce output with many types of materials and properties at once.
As Andrew Wheeler has expressed, 3D printing is transforming from an industry in its own into a subset of a larger technological revolution that he, and Autodesk, refer to as Reality Computing. Andrew pointed out to me that HP, with its Blended Reality approach, has its own vision of a world in which 3D printing objects in the real world is directly connected to designing them in the virtual world. As a unified front, HP and Autodesk could be the new leaders of this revolution.
The 3D printing industry as we know it may already be dead, reborn as something altogether different. As we become subsumed by a strange, new mainstream, all of us little fishes may have to figure out a new way to swim as we approach the vast ocean ahead. When we get there, the scary thing for us sea creatures will be the biggest fish of them all: GE (Market Cap: 261.7B).