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HP Unveils Faster, Cheaper 3-D Printers

Like we said last week.


Computing and printing giant Hewlett-Packard stepped into the nascent 3-D printing market today with a product it says will be faster and cheaper than anything else on the market.

Called Fusion (pictured), it’ll be targeted mainly to business customers and will be available by 2016. The company hasn’t yet set a price. Despite the intense interest from hobbyists who want to turn 3-D printing into a mainstream activity, HP’s line isn’t meant for home use. Research firm Gartner says 3-D printing shipments are going to double next year, but it’s still a relatively small market, amounting to a few hundred thousand units.

One thing that apparently gives HP an edge is that its printers can work with multiple kinds of materials at once. That’s a big deal, since most 3-D printers work with only one material at a time. “In the future it enables printing of almost any product — a chip, a phone, headphones,” Pat Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights and Strategy, said. “This is the long-term future, but could fundamentally change the way we manufacture.”

Another key advantage for HP here is that the 3-D printers will use the same head technology as its conventional ink-and-paper printers, saving development time and money.

We’ll see what some of the established 3-D printing players have to say about that. Stratasys, an early maker of 3-D printers that owns the popular MakerBot printers, is having an event of its own in New York tomorrow.

HP unveiled another product, Sprout, which, as we previously reported, combines a flat screen, a table-top workspace, a projector and a 3-D scanner.

So here’s what Sprout looks like, and there’s a video below demonstrating it in use.


The machine costs about $1,899 and is unlike anything else on the market. Moorhead called it “something truly useful and differentiated in a market that has been boring and uninspiring for several years.”

Sprout fits into a wider vision that HP has for what it has called “new computing experiences,” which are likely to be a tentpole of the new company HP Inc., the hardware division that will be split off when Hewlett-Packard splits in two sometime next year.

Central to Sprout is the overhead assembly that combines a scanner, a depth sensor, a high-res camera and a projector. Toss an object onto the workspace and it can be scanned quickly to add an image to whatever you’re working on. The product has been created by a group headed by Eric Monsef, a former Apple hardware executive.

Here’s the video about Sprout.

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