HP Plans 3D Printing Line, Looks to Future Innovation
The first HP machines will print using thermoplastics, with other materials, including metals, to come later, said Schiller. "It could be in the future that we can find ways to emulate materials. It is the tip of the iceberg" for what could be possible. "What about having the ability to make parts when they are no longer in production? As you can imagine, we have the biggest business enterprises in the world coming to us and saying, 'Oh, do we have a vision for this,'" he said. "I'm more excited about what we don't see that's coming." As part of its move into 3D printing with its own products, HP has also joined a new 3D printing consortium that is forming within the industry to develop standards that will make it easier for customers to buy and use machines that interact with each other for better manageability, said Schiller. HP's 3D systems will include software that is open source, along with open licensing and Windows 10 integration. "Good things are coming on the workflow side," he said. "The way you drive transformation, to get to that future that everybody is so excited about, is by really getting the key players aligned with a unified vision." In the past five years, 3D printing has been growing much faster as enterprises of all sizes find out they can buy a device for as little as $500 and begin trying out new ideas they never dreamed of in the past. Much of the latest enthusiasm for 3D printing comes from a blooming hobbyist or "maker" movement that has helped bring down the cost of smaller devices to where companies of any size can now afford to try one. Today, the global 3D printing business is a $2.2 billion market that continues to grow. 3D printers typically work by laying down layer upon layer of material to gradually build up a part until it is complete. There are seven different technologies used in 3D printers that work with various materials, including plastics and metals.
Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to double in 2015 to 217,350 units, up from 108,151 in 2014, according to figures released in October 2014 by Gartner.