HP grabbed headlines this weekwith two announcementsa 3D printersaid to be 10 times faster than most products currently on the market and acreative workstationequipped with a projector and 3D scanner that uses a tablet-like touchscreen rather than a mouse or keyboard.
The 3-D printer, called HP Multi Jet Fusion, is expected to be released in 2016 and isnt for home useaccording to Stephen Nigro, senior vice president of HPs, Inkjet & Graphics Solutions Businesses,the product is targeting industrial applicationsoutput will be measured in tons of material used.
The all-in-one workstation, called HP Sprout, goes on sale next month for $1,899. [It is] an impressive combination of technologies, and the integration of touch, projection, and scanning (both 2D and 3D) is a notable achievement for HP, observes PCMagsBrian Westover in this review. But the real question is where this technology will be used, and whether or not it will get the sort of adoption and support needed to realize HPs vision of a new, holistic computing category. The unique collection of parts and capabilities offered by the Sprout leave me questioning where this device fits in.
Built on HP Thermal Inkjet technology assets, HP Multi Jet Fusion incorporates a synchronous architecture using multiple chemical agents. HP will support third-party innovation with an open collaboration approach to materials and workflow solutions. (See a video explanation here.)
The technology resembles a binder inkjet process, but the inkjet head deposits a thermal fusion liquid, explainsGartners Pete Basiliere. A heating element transfers energy into the fusing agent, causing localized fusion of the thermoplastic. The printhead also deposits a second material layer, promoting fine detail and surface finish.
Here is some additional commentary on the Multi Jet Fusion and Sprout announcements from around the web:
Simon Martin, Solid Smack: [HP] chose a venue in anart-heavy section of Manhattanfor their new product announcements. Gone were the boring monochrome tones you would expect to see at a launch event for a computer and peripherals maker. The medium-sized venue featured over a dozen professional artists with wildly different styles splashing color across an army of Sprout machines. The staff on-hand wore rainbow-colored shirts and all of the tables were scattered with so many colorful butterflies that it almost felt like somebody threw confetti everywhere. Oh yeah, and the 3D prints were in full-color. You get the point.
Darren Orf, Gizmodo:The [Multi Jet Fusion] printer uses a high-resolution print bar, it can also jet 350 million drops per second at 21 micron precision. For comparison, MakerBots Replicator 2 comes in at only 100 micron resolutions with other personal printers reach upwards of 50 microns.
Ben Fox Rubin, CNET:HP claims the [3D] technology achieves [its speed] in part by building an entire surface area, instead of one point at a time, substantially speeding up 3D imaging. Additionally, beyond the current use of thermoplastics, HP plans to develop new 3D printing materials, using color, ceramic and metal. The company eventually wants to offer the same set of colors it already does for traditional printing.
Quentin Hardy, New York Times:HPs efforts to make 3-D printing an everyday thing are fascinatingIt is entering a very small market, in what advocates say are its earliest days. Gartner recentlysaidthat worldwide sales of 3-D printers will be about 217,000 units in 2015. By contrast, in the United States alone, shipments of regular printers are typically about 24 million units a year.
Pete Basiliere, Gartner: Rivals have plenty of time to innovate, making HPs strategy risky. It must ensure the printers material range and capabilities, productivity and pricing are not just significantly better than todays technology but better than the technologies and 3D printer offerings that will be in the market in late 2016.
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