On October 29, 2014, Hewlitt Packard released information about its Multi-Jet Fusion technology, and how it is capable of producing multi-colored, three-dimensional objects. HP's announcement focused widespread attention on the new industry that is quickly evolving around 3D printing.
In global terms, today's manufacturing of parts using 3D printers is minuscule. However, most analysts expect that to change dramatically. Gartner, the marketing research firm, has weighed in on the matter, and it projects an annual doubling of shipments of 3D printers every year from 2015 to 2018.
Twenty Times the Units by 2018
In raw numbers, Gartner projects that the 100,000 such printers shipped in 2014 will pale by comparison to the 2.3 million units that the marketing research firm believes will be shipped in 2018. In terms of dollars to be spent on 3D printers, Gartner estimates that sales of $1.6 billion in 2015 will multiply to $13.4 billion by 2018. Its noteworthy that any growth in 2015 will essentially occur without HP's new printers, because the devices utilizing Multi-Jet Fusion technology will not even hit the market until 2016, as reported by Cnet.
Hewlitt-Packard's decision to add its research and manufacturing gravitas to the embryonic 3D printing industry has been welcomed even by relative newcomers in the business, such as Stratasys. At present, HP's market value is roughly 10 times that of Stratasys. The CEO of that enterprise suggests that the potential uses of 3D printing technology are so diverse that the rapidly evolving industry sector can successfully absorb major new players.
Stronger Products Made 10 Times Faster
HP has asserted that its new technology will allow printers to operate at 10 times the speed of current models. The tech giant also claims that it will create stronger products made diverse materials like metals, ceramics, and advanced plastics.
HP already has prototypes that have impressed third-party observers. During the time that the large company needs to ramp up its production facilities, smaller, more nimble 3D printing companies may have a window of opportunity during which they can innovate to respond to HP's pending arrival.