3D Printing Expert Weighs in on Hewlett-Packard Company's 3D Printer

By Steve Heller, The Motley Fool, Motley Fool

In the following video segment, 3D printing specialist Steve Heller interviews Tim Caffrey, senior consultant at Wohlers Associates, a leading 3D printing insights company that authors the Wohlers Report , about Hewlett-Packard 's recent announcement that it will enter the 3D printing market sometime in 2016 with a homegrown technology it calls Multi Jet Fusion. Additionally, Steve asks Tim what he expects out of EuroMold 2014, the world's largest 3D printing conference, held in Frankfurt, Germany -- where the two spoke last month.

According to HP, Multi Jet Fusion is 10 times faster than the leading material jetting and selective laser sintering technology available today, and doesn't sacrifice on quality or strength. Given HP's decades of 2D printing expertise and its deep pockets, investors in 3D Systems and Stratasys would be wise to closely monitor HP's entrance to the space, which might shake up the 3D printing industry.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Steve Heller: Steve Heller here, folks. I'm joined today with Tim Caffrey of Wohlers Associates. He is a senior consultant at Wohlers Associates, a leading 3D printing insights company.

Tim, I just wanted to jump right in here. Let's talk about Hewlett-Packard. Wohlers recently made some pretty bold statements about Hewlett-Packard's Multi Jet Fusion [3D printer]. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that.

Tim Caffrey: Hewlett-Packard's had a team of research scientists that have been working for several years on this technology, which they call Multi Jet Fusion. We've seen some parts, and we've seen a machine, and really some pretty impressive output in terms of the quality of the parts, the down-facing surfaces, the speed of the machine.

Of course, with Hewlett-Packard's global reach -- their large-format 2D printing division, which is headquartered in Barcelona -- we think that they're really in a good position to essentially disrupt the 3D printing industry.

Heller: What makes Multi Jet Fusion so groundbreaking, compared to the additive manufacturing landscape? There are a number of different leading technologies: selective laser sintering, material-based extrusion. What makes Multi Jet Fusion so much more unique?

Caffrey: One thing, Steve, is the speed of the system. There were some test parts that were built, and the speed improvements are up to 10 times faster than some of the existing technologies in additive.

Also, the price point -- which we don't know where Hewlett-Packard's going to price these systems, and, of course, it depends upon the size of the part volume -- but we think that there's some potential for some real disruption with respect to system pricing as well.

Heller: Being that HP's entrance is roughly two years away from release, how do you view that in the competitive landscape? Is this going to spark an innovation boom in terms of research and development? Are other competitors really going to try to step up their game to remain more competitive against a threat like Multi Jet Fusion?

Caffrey: It'll be interesting to see, I agree. We'll see how the other manufacturers in the industry respond. Most of the responses thus far, publicly, have been positive and that there's room in this growing industry for more players and more manufacturers, and that's a good sign.

Hewlett-Packard, you say, is about two years away from commercial systems, and I think that's about accurate, although they are looking for strategic partners and probably to do some beta testing in the nearer term, so we'll probably be seeing incremental results related to the process and how much impact it really will have for the industry.

Heller: In terms of looking out, we're at EuroMold, at the opening day here. What are some of the biggest things you're looking for today?

Caffrey: You're right, we're here at EuroMold, the morning of the first day. EuroMold is the show of the year, where most system manufacturers and material suppliers and other companies that supply to this industry make their big announcements related to technology development, new systems, and whatnot, so it's a pretty exciting time. We'll be here all week, and we'll see what is here to offer and to learn.

We also have a conference. This will be the 16th consecutive year of the Wohlers Conference, which is a one-day conference that we put on. This year's theme is Managing the Supply Chain in 3D Printing. We're looking forward to that on Thursday.

By the end of the week, I think we'll have a good idea. We're looking to see new system announcements. We know that Stratasys and 3D Systems, for example, have both made announcements prior to EuroMold that they will be introducing new materials, new systems, so there's a lot to be seen.

Of course, out here in Hall 11 it's almost entirely dedicated to additive and to the materials and software to support additive, so there's an awful lot to see and an awful lot to learn.

The article 3D Printing Expert Weighs in on Hewlett-Packard Company's 3D Printer originally appeared on Fool.com.

Steve Heller owns shares of 3D Systems. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of 3D Systems, Apple, and Stratasys. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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