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HP announces new business model, network expansion and alliances for formnext 2019 – what does it mean for the 3D printing industry?

Away from takeover related news, HP’s 3D printing business continues apace with a bundle of announcements for formnext 2019. The company will have multiple new offerings in three key areas for the Frankfurt show, an updated business model, expansion of the digital manufacturing network and further industrial alliances. 

Ramon Pastor, interim President of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing, HP Inc. said, “Customers want integrated solutions coupled with convenient capital models providing the predictability, transparency, and flexibility to quickly scale their businesses.” 

“Our offerings lower the barriers to adoption for industrial companies to more easily deploy HP’s best-in-class 3D printing solutions. And these are just the first steps — we will continue collaborating with customers and partners to pioneer new models unlocking and accelerating the power of digital manufacturing.”

(Left) Ramon Pastor, Vice-president & General Manager, HP 3D Printing Business and Christoph Schell,President 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing and a member of the Executive Leadership Team of HP cutting the ribbon of the new 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing Center of Excellence. Photo by Tia Vialva.
(Left) Ramon Pastor, (then) Vice-president & General Manager, HP 3D Printing Business and Christoph Schell, (then) President 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing and a member of the Executive Leadership Team of HP cutting the ribbon of the new 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Barcelona June 2019. Photo by Tia Vialva.

HP 3D printing business model update

The “convenient capital models” referred to by Pastor include two new subscription plans. 

The HP 3D as a Service (3DaaS) Base subscription provides, “automatic replenishment of HP 3D Supplies, simplified tracking of billing and usage, and reliable remote and on-site support services.”

The HP 3D as a Service (3DaaS) Plus subscription is for “hardware, supplies, and services and is ideal for customers looking to accelerate product life cycles with optimized in-house rapid prototyping and final part production.”

The Base subscription is also described as a pay-per-build service and can be accessed by owners of HP Jet Fusion 5200, 4200, and 500 series 3D printers. Initially, the Plus subscription will be available for the HP Jet Fusion 340.

The subscription service has echoes of HP’s 2D printing business. HP’s Instant Ink monthly subscription service is a business model that monitors users and promises to ensure they never run out of ink cartridges. Reception to that service has been mixed, advocates tout the cost-savings while detractors claim the availability of aftermarket cartridges negate any such saving.

Subscription business models are becoming more widely used in the 3D printing industry since Carbon made digital light synthesis available by the method and software companies have also favored the approach. Next year’s Desktop Metal carbon fiber 3D printers will also be available as subscription only. 

New members of the HP Digital Manufacturing Network

HP’s polymer and metal 3D printing technology will be accessible from two new members of the HP Digital Manufacturing Network. In Europe, Prototal joins and in Japan, Solize is a new member. 

Prototal has facilities in Sweden and Norway and also offers injection molding and low-volume manufacturing services. Solize provides a range of services including 3D design, 3D printing and “innovation/AI”.

Expansion of industrial alliances

Visitors to formnext 2019 will be able to see the fruits of several ongoing partnerships and how HP technology is in use at major manufacturers and engineering companies. A showcase of new “serial production-ready parts” from Siemens and HP will be available. These components were designed for two leading automotive industry suppliers. The first is a topology-optimized active coolant distributor for electric vehicles developed by EDAG. Based in Wiesbaden, Germany, EDAG is a major independent development partner in the automotive sector.

Also from the automotive sector is Adient, a global leader in automotive seating for all major automakers. Adient is creating a new seat headrest optimized for size and light-weighting without compromising material strength and flexibility.  

Activity from HP has increasingly drawn attention to the application of 3D printing for the automotive sector. Most recently with the announcement by Volkswagen that HP Metal Jet is meeting milestones for its ongoing introduction into vehicle manufacture.

Volkswagen is one of the first partners to use HP Metal Jet technology. Photo via HP
Volkswagen is one of the first partners to use HP Metal Jet technology. Photo via HP

Further alliances include the introduction of ESTANE® 3D TPU M95-A by Lubrizol. The thermoplastic polyurethane material is described as “ideal for flexible and elastic parts” and was developed by the $7 billion specialty chemicals leader for HP 3D printing systems. 

The final alliance comes from AM Solutions, a division of the Rösler group. This new partnership sees HP launch a partnership focused on bringing new post-processing options to users.

AM Solutions launched 3D printing services in September 2019, while parent company Rösler demonstrated the RapidFinish smoothing technology back in 2018. As we noted at the time, Germany’s DyeMansion offers a similar process. Post-processing for HP Multi Jet Fusion components is also offered by several other enterprises including the PostPro3D system from AM Technologies.

Post-processing is enjoying an influx of investment at the moment, with AM Technologies and PostProcess Technologies both raising funds within the past month. A positive indication that additive manufacturing is advancing towards higher usage. 

Expanding the 3D printing industry

A common thread running through this crop of announcements is the introduction of relatively new names to the AM sector – although new may not be the best description for one company name that is unnervingly close to an existing enterprise.

While HP’s reseller network has grown to encompass channel partners more familiar to the 3D printing industry, arguably the initial global distributor and reseller announcement in 2017 was less so. This should not come as a surprise, the 3D printing industry is relatively small when compared to the wider manufacturing sector. Sales channels were developed by early leaders in the industry such as EOS, Stratasys and 3D Systems and these important networks are closely guarded – with little leeway for resellers to offer rival systems. Activity by large enterprises such as HP that brings new enterprises to the 3D printing industry should be welcomed, as it expands the market as a whole and is likely to introduce a wider audience to additive manufacturing. An audience who will find a huge pool of experience and talent if they are willing to venture off the beaten path.

The 3D Printing Industry team will be in Frankfurt next week. You can keep up with all the additive manufacturing news by subscribing to the free 3D Printing Industry newsletter, following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook.

Looking for a career in additive manufacturing? Visit 3D Printing Jobs for a selection of roles in the industry.

Featured image shows the HP Jet Fusion 5200 Series 3D printer. Photo by Michael Petch.

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