MAKER OF EXPENSIVE PRINTER INK HP plans to enter the commercial 3D printer market later this year to bring the technology to the mass market.
Speaking to HP shareholders in an annual shareholder meeting conference call on Wednesday, HP CEO Meg Whitnman told investors that the firm will "make a big technology announcement" in June about 3D printing and detail how it will approach the market, which has largely been overhyped in the media despite not yet being ready for widespread consumer adoption.
Speaking about how HP could change the 3D printing industry, Whitman said that the company's research teams have resolved the limitations of the quality of materials used in the printing process, which right now means that the quality of finished products created by such machines aren't up to scratch.
"We're on the case," she said in the meeting, which can be replayed on the HP investor relations page. "We actually think we've solved these problems."
HP definitely has good reasons to invest the 3D printing industry. The firm's executives have estimated that worldwide sales of 3D printers will grow exponentially to almost $11bn by 2021 from $2.2bn in 2012.
So far, 3D printing has attracted a lot of attention in the media, but has failed to make much of an impact on a mass scale.
Many of the giant software firms have readied products for the true arrival of 3D printing, such as Adobe, which in January announced a host of updates to its Creative Cloud digital hub including the integration of 3D printing capabilities in Photoshop.
Microsoft also made 3D printing native to Windows late last year when it launched the Windows 8.1 application 3D Builder to provide a Windows user interface for 3D printing operations.
However, so far the 3D printer market has been dominated by a number of smaller firms like Makerbot that hope to sell small scale devices to consumers. Perhaps HP's research might change that. µ
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