GP3D is a small company from Hacienda Heights, California. But they are also a subsidiary of a global company called Green Project Inc. , which sells ISO 14000 certified imaging supplies globally. They have offices in China, Europe and the US. Lately, we’ve been watching closely as companies on the periphery who have analogous technology – such as Marvell and HP -transition from cat-seated observers of the 3D printing industry, to becoming slow or dramatic entrants into the expanding 3D printing universe. Green Project Inc. jumped in by selling filament and 3D printing accessories for a spell, and now they have released a familiar looking 3D printer.
With the same name as HP’s new 3D desktop computer, the “Sprout” 3D printer from GP3D costs $549 and will be presented for the first time January 6-9 at CES 2015 in Las Vegas. The idea is to show their wares and gain some support for Sprout’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign.
The build volume is pretty small at 5.9″ x 5.9″ x 5.5″. The build plate moves up, down, backwards, and forwards along the Y and Z axes, while the extruder moves from left to right on the X. It prints with a reported .18mm using PLA filament. The design looks pretty good, like a stealth Afinia H480 carrying its filament holder on the opposite side. It has a 3.5″ touchscreen firmware interface, where you control settings and manage your prints.
According to the President of Green Project Inc, Joseph Wu, “Our focus is to make an affordable and high quality 3D printer for everyone.” That is indeed the goal there, Joseph. It has an average size metal body for a “compact desktop 3D printer”, measuring at 11.7″ x 8.7″x 15.9.”
Global companies such as Green Project Inc., who have offices all around the world and access to China, have a competitive advantage in maximizing profit in a number of ways. For example, in China, reverse engineering without consequence is the norm, and the desktop 3D printing industry is expected to grow fourfold over the next four years. While foreign competitors are increasingly competing for China’s massive emerging economy, China itself is taking the concept of incrementally replacing traditional manufacturing techniques with 3D printing very seriously.
Richard Jun Li, a Lux Research director, said it best, “While 3D printing has been touted as a way for Western economies to compete with China’s manufacturing advantages, the Asian giant is also taking rapid strides to parlay its traditional strengths into 3D printing as well.”
Though I think the coming year in 3D printing will see a focus on breaking new and better materials and acquisitions, if I were the head of a small homegrown 3D printing company, I would watch out for more and more subsidiaries popping up with readymade versions of 3D printers, scanners, materials and even software, ready to fill every little space of market demand. Especially when they are attached to larger global companies with access to inexpensive manufacturing.