HP Inc. has been very busy so far this year, with consumer launches at CES 2018 (detailed here) and equally promising mainstream commercial notebook PC and mobile workstation launches (read more here) just last week. HP Inc. excels in these areas with the #1 commercial share and #2 in workstations and is considered likely in every deal. It is worth noting, however, that HP’s printer division is coming off an impressive turnaround, representing 35% of HP’s revenue and 70% of its profit in the most recent quarter. It has been a while since I have written on HP’s 3D printers (2014, to be exact), but the company has been very busy since then attempting to disrupt the $12T manufacturing market. This week the company announced its new HP Jet Fusion 300 /500 of 3D printers, as well as a new collaboration with Dassault Systemes to optimize its SOLIDWORKS 3D design and engineering applications with HP Inc.’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing solutions.
3D printing background
Let’s back up a bit—additive (versus reduction) 3D printing, for the uninitiated, is the process by which material is joined and solidified into a 3D object through the successive layering of material which is melted, all guided by computerized, 3D design tools. It is basically what it sounds like, printing in 3D. These technologies are making big waves in the manufacturing industry, and have an incredibly broad range of potential applications (think architectural scale models, prosthetic limbs, etc.).
HP began its 3D printing journey over ten years ago, back in 2007. The company took its time getting things right, premiering its Multi Fusion Jet technology and its Sprout PC in 2014. HP has several 3D printers already launched and shipping, including the 3200 (designed for prototyping and production environments from 130-299 parts per week (PPW), the 4200 (designed for prototyping and production, 300-699 PPW), and the 4210 (designed for production, 700-1000 PPW). These manufacturing-grade 3D printers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions.
Jabil Inc, a leading high-volume manufacturer, appears “all-in” on HP 3D printers. Their tests of HP 3D printers revealed the break-points of “tool” versus “HP 3D print”. Here is what Jabil’s Vice President of Digital Manufacturing said in a blog post last year. “We saw breakeven points climb from 5,000 units to 20,000, 30,0000, up to 40,000 units,” says Dulchinos. “We have also gone through 19 design iterations for a part in the time it would take us to do one with traditional manufacturing methods. This speeds time-to-market and saves a considerable amount of money, which confirmed our belief that 3D printing is ready for manufacturing applications.” Using 3D printing is real for manufacturing.