HP Raises the Bar With New 3D Printers

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Tech industry veterans Hewlett-Packard announced recently at an industry conference the official sales launch of their first ever industrial-grade 3D printers. The company will now begin accepting preorders for both the HP Jet Fusion 3200, set to release in October, as well as the larger 4200 series, which is slated for production sometime next year.

The Multi Jet Fusion technology that powers HP’s new printers promises significant leaps and bounds for 3D printing productivity. The company claims that their new models will be able to materialize items ten times faster than the current leading industrial 3D printers, enabling increased production and lower costs for manufacturers as well as shorter wait times for custom projects.

The printers are also scaled at about half the cost of other 3D models. The 3200 series is priced at $130,000 while the 4200 is anticipated to be in the low-$200,000 range.

While 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — technologies are a new frontier for Hewlett-Packard, it’s a well established trade for the tech industry. Three-dimensional printed objects have been highly useful and successful for operations that require customizable parts in small quantities, as in aerospace and biomedical fields. Dentists have been using physically-printed crown replacements alongside 3D X-ray technology for ceramic reconstruction since 2009, for example.

But HP aims to bring 3D printing out of niche markets and into larger assembly processes. “We see it having an impact that we haven’t seen in 28 years,” 3D printing consultant Terry Wohlers told the Wall Street Journal. The 3D printing business experienced a 17% increase last year, an upward trajectory likely to continue with HP’s imminent entrance.

As a symbol of their dedication, HP is even self-manufacturing 66 of the 135 various parts for their printers using their own 3D technology. As HP’s chief executive Dion Weisler explained at the RAPID 2016 conference in Orlando, “Our printers are printing themselves.”

HP’s new products promise to raise the bar for 3D printing quality and capacity at the industry-market level. Whether their technologies will extend to the lagging personal-use 3D printer market, however, remains to be seen.

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