HP en­ters a whole new di­men­sion as it gam­bles on print­ers

Irish Independent - Business Week - - TECHNOLOGY - Brian Womack

HP – which helped de­fine print­ing tech­nol­ogy for pa­per – is turn­ing to the in­dus­try’s next gen­er­a­tion: pro­duc­ing three­d­i­men­sional ob­jects.

The com­pany is in­tro­duc­ing two 3-D print­ers aimed at man­u­fac­tur­ing cus­tomers look­ing for ef­fi­cient ways to make items with­out tra­di­tional tools, chief ex­ec­u­tive Dion Weisler said.

HP is work­ing with busi­nesses such as BMW, Siemens and Nike as co- de­vel­op­ers of the tech­nol­ogy, ref lect­ing the com­pany’s open ap­proach to build­ing the new prod­ucts, he said.

HP, which sells print­ers and com­put­ers, is in­vest­ing in new in­dus­tries as it looks for ways to drive growth after split­ting last year from its cor­po­rate sib­ling, which fo­cuses on busi­ness cus­tomers with servers, stor­age and ser­vices.

The three- di­men­sional print­ers will be­gin to be de­liv­ered in late 2016 and may help the com­pany in the fu­ture as it seeks to re­verse a trend of de­clin­ing sales amid sag­ging de­mand for pa­per-based doc­u­ments.

“It’s an in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant part of our strat­egy,” Weisler said. “These are de­signed for real com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tions.”

About half of the cus­tom parts in­side the new print­ers are made by the print­ers them­selves, Weisler said. The cost of one of the printer mod­els starts at about $130,000, he said.

“HP re­ally re­alised now was the time to get in­volved and take ad­van­tage of this grow­ing in­dus­try,” said Joe Kemp­ton, an an­a­lyst at Canalys.

“It’s hugely im­por­tant for HP to prove them­selves as a dy­namic com­pany, as an in­no­va­tive com­pany, who are re­ally dis­rupt­ing the mar­ket.”

The new print­ers take ad­van­tage of more than 5,000 patents and 30 years of re­search and devel­op­ment, HP said in a state­ment.

The ma­chines craft ob­jects at what’s called the “voxel” level – sim­i­lar to the pixel for twodi­men­sional projects – mak­ing it sim­pler and quicker to man­u­fac­ture parts, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

“I think they’ll do well,” said Pete Basiliere, an an­a­lyst at Gart­ner.

“I think the price point is very at­trac­tive.” (Bloomberg)

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