In March, Hewlett-Packard (HP) announced that – aside from other product lines – the company will not solely be producing 2D printers in the future, but also 3D printers. Their announcement made the entire 3D printing world feel over-excited, as their printers were announced to be able to to work rapidly and to reduce costs massively. Many expected HP to be talking about a new line of consumer 3D printers, but that does not seem to be the case. The company’s CEO Meg Whitman was interviewed by CNBC and told them “we’re focused on business 3D printing, not consumer 3D printing.”
Our colleagues at 3Dprint.com cleverly picked up this ‘meh’ scoop. “This is an acorn that we’re planting that will become an oak tree in the future,” says Whitman to CNBC. “This is a business we need to be in. It’s very consistent with our heritage, but we’re doing that in a lot of businesses. You know, innovation, you have to plant those acorns before they become oak trees and you have to have patience in terms of development cycles. You have to continuously and consistently invest in R&D.”
Despite of the economic purposes of 3D printing for HP, the company does not want to join the 3D printing consumer side. This might be a relief to current leading manufacturers of consumer 3D printers, such as 3D Systems and MakerBot. It also implies cheap consumer 3D printer brands such as The Micro, Deltaprintr, Mod-T and KAST will not face extra competition.
It might take until the end of 2014 until we hear more about HP’s developments in 3D printing. The company initially wanted to give a press conference in June, but postponed it to the end of the year. HP will then explain more about their ways of speeding of 3D printing and making it a cheaper way of manufacturing.
Further on, in an interview by HP with HP (it really happened in that way), Whitman was asked whether HP is late to the 3D printing market. She answered: “Critics might say so, but that could be because they’re making the mistake of equating the opportunity in 3D printing to other consumer technology or printing breakthroughs. We want to make good quality, high accuracy parts. Today, you can get a really good inkjet printer capable of producing beautiful prints for very little money, in just a few seconds. The average consumer would be disappointed in the results from a similarly-priced 3D printer. The quality just isn’t there and it takes hours and hours to produce even simple parts.”
Despite of Whitman’s skills to defend her company, HP is not doing too well momentarily. The brand will soon cut 11,000 to 16,000 jobs, which brings its total job losses to 50,000 since 2012. Below you can see the interview CNBC had with Whitman:
Image credits: Enterric / Axewalls.