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HP Inc to operate “open platform” in 3D printing

March 24, 2016

The OEM has claimed that it will “bring an era of open platforms to 3D printing”.

HP's 3D printing unit

HP’s 3D printing unit

The Register reported on HP Inc’s CTO Shane Wall’s comments, noting that HP Inc “won’t shake you down for ink in [the] 3D printer era”. The site added that the OEM is “threatening to bring an era of open platforms to 3D printing”, which it believes will “turn the well used – and much criticised – ink toner supplies [business] model on its head”.

Wall believes that HP Inc’s MultiJet Fusion machines will be “incredibly disruptive”, and “fundamentally change the industry”, with The Register pointing out that “industry folk are expecting big things of HP Inc given its heritage in paper print”. On the technology’s delay in release, four factors have “hampered growth”, Wall notes, including speed, price, quality of parts, and “the closed nature of the industry”, with HP Inc’s machine claimed to “solve these restrictions”.

One way in which it’s supposed to do this is by “printing between 10 and 100 times faster”, while it will be sold “at circa 20 percent of the cost of existing business machines”, and Wall adds that the machine can “change the characteristics of every voxel”, or 3D pixel, including colour, hardness, flexibility, translucency and printed electronics.

With 3D printing’s “closed nature”, HP Inc believes that the open platform will be a “move away” from the traditional consumables model, which The Register notes “some may describe as the protectionist racket that HP et al masterminded for traditional toner cartridges”. HP Inc will “still have print and supplies, but our model will be different; we will open up the platform so people can have other supplies that come in”.

Wall added that other suppliers will “have access to our APIs (application program interface) through an SDK (software development kit) that allows them to programme to the printer itself, and we’ll allow people to come in and do very disruptive new materials that they wouldn’t have been able to do before. [This is] very different from HP and very game-changing”.

Explaining the delay in launching the machine, Wall said that the OEM has always been “on track”, while Chris Connery, Vice President for Global Analysis and Research at market analysts Context, commented that HP Inc’s open model “was the way forward […] anything the 3D printer market can do to move away from the razor/razor blade model of 2D printing can indeed benefit adoption”.

The Register concluded however that “much as HP management and investors might be keen on a return to the good old days when people used more ink and the price of toner was compared to the margins achieved from selling expensive perfume or dealing in cocaine, they’ve likely gone forever. No one wants to snort plastic or dab it behind their ears”.

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