3D printing has become so popular that it even interests 2D printing companies. Remember Hewlett-Packard? Today it’s probably not the coolest brand you can think of, but the printing company wants to change this for once and for all. Today, all eyes are on HP, as the company’s CEO Meg Whitman has said that HP will solve the two biggest problems in 3D printing today. In June they will provide the world with more details, but we can already lift a corner of the veil.
So what are the current problems she’s talking about? At first, the slowness of the work of today’s 3D printers. Whitman aptly describes it as “watching ice melt”. The second big problem with 3D printing today is that the quality of 3D prints is not as good as it could be. “The surface of the substrate is not perfect,” says Whitman. “We believe we have solved both these problems and we’ll be making a big technology announcement in June around how we are going to approach this.”
It’s surely very striking that – of all brands – 2D printing company Hewlett-Packard is expected to be the sole party to bring these massive improvements to 3D printing. However according to Whitman, HP’s in-house researchers have “resolved limitations involved with the quality of substrates used in the process.” Such limitations affect the durability of finished products, which affects the durability of finished products. “We actually think we’ve solved these problems,” says Whitman. “The bigger market is going to be in the enterprise space.”
So can we expect a real 3D printer by Hewlett-Packard any time soon? We haven’t got any serious information about that yet, but CTO and HP Labs director Martin Fink has written something in a blogpost from February which indicates that HP seems to be working on it. “HP is currently exploring the many possibilities of 3D printing and the company will play an important role in its development. The fact is that 3D printing is really still an immature technology, but it has a magical aura. The sci-fi movie idea that you can magically create things on command makes the idea of 3D printing really compelling for people.”
But HP is not the only party working on a way to speed up 3D printing techniques. Will there be a race about who will be the first party to speed up 3D printing? Who knows, because last month the U.S. Department of Energy has asked tool manufacturer Concinnati Incorporated to create a 3D printing system, which needs to speed up its work 200 to 500 times and makes it possible to print 10 times the size. They agreed on the fact that the company will build a large-scale polymer additive manufacturing system that will not only be able to print out large polymer parts in a faster way, but it’s also set to print out items in a much cheaper way than today.
We are definitely curious about the upcoming developments. Will 3D printing speed up massively in 2014? Well, one thing is for sure: we will update you on this year’s developments!
Update: HP has postponed the announcements of the changes to late 2014.
Image credit: Armbrust, Wikipedia.