3D Printers

Will the HP 3D Printing Talk Prove to be White Noise or Game Changing?

Hewlett-Packard (HP) continues to tease investors and other 3D printing vendors, not to mention the press, about its plans to enter the 3D printing market. On Tuesday last, HP’s Chief Executive Meg Whitman told shareholders at an annual meeting how the company plans to make a “big technology announcement” in June this year, focused on the commercial 3D printing market because, apparently, HP’s R&D has, “solved a number of technical problems that have hindered broader adoption of the high-tech manufacturing process.”

I can’t wait to ask some of the established 3D printer vendors what they think of this revelation and whether they believe that HP’s billions will have allowed the company to leap-frog the decades of R&D conducted across the RP/RM/AM/3DP landscape. I can’t see it myself, for a start it’s highly unlikely to involve metals, but they may well bring something new to the table that stirs things up.

According to Reuters, Whitman is reporting that “HP’s in-house researchers have resolved limitations involved with the quality of substrates used in the process, which affects the durability of finished products.”

Absolutely no indication of what “the process” is, but what is interesting is that HP is not looking to engage consumers. Ms Whitman’s focus is on “the bigger market [which] is going to be in the enterprise space.”

Since the beginning of Q4 last year, HP has periodically been making these noises. Six months on they are still dropping breadcrumbs with very little evidence to back up the rhetoric. And apparently we still have 3 more months to wait for the big reveal. Of all the 2D printing players that are ‘looking’ at the potential of the third dimension though, they are certainly the one making the most noise.

The question remains, at least until June, is it white noise?



HP subsequently posted on its corporate blog that June was too early.

Lots of speculation as a result, and a few red faces I imagine.

This is what the post update said, very short and sweet, as your would expect:

“During our Annual Meeting of Stockholders on March 19, HP answered a shareholder question about our 3D printing program and inadvertently stated that we would be making a technology announcement in June, when in fact we are planning to make that announcement by the end of our fiscal year.  Stay tuned ….”

The end of HP’s fiscal year is 31st October.

You really wouldn’t bet your mortgage on it though would you?