HP won't squeeze itself into 3D printer consumer market

On track for 2016 pro launch...for now

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Canalys Channels Forum HP is on track to launch into the 3D printing market next year, but don’t expect to be printing off your own plastic goodies anytime soon.

HP Inc boss-to-be Dion Weisler told an audience at the Canalys Channels Forum today that development of its 3d printer offering was progressing apace.

“We are broadly on track. We said we’d launch to market in 2016,” he said.

When he says broadly on track, that’s in line with the updated time scale the vendor laid out last year. But when Meg Whitman first admitted to HP’s 3D ambitions in 2013, she predicted a 2014 launch, with the devices turning up in bureaus the public could access.

That timescale was decisively junked a year ago, when the vendor unveiled its Multi Jet Fusion technology, which it said would go on sale in 2016.

On Wednesday, Weisler told the audience at Canalys Channels Forum that he expected prototypes to be with selected customers in HP’s financial Q3 2016, with wide availability the following quarter – assuming all goes well. This would mean around this time next year.

However, he was clear this was aimed “very clearly in the commercial space.”

“Don’t expect us to play in the consumer space.” Rather it would be targeting the professional prototyping and product space.

He also seemed to play down the 3D-printing market as whole, saying that while there was lots of hype, the technology had been around for a couple of decades.

The key to creating a mass market was solving the three problems of “speed, quality and cost”, he said.

Clearly this has not been cracked, as he said, it was still “tiny” at “only $5bn”. As to whether HP has cracked these three issues, we should find out a year from now. ®


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