HP’s 3D printer that was announced back in 2014 is set to launch this year.

Chief financial officer at HP, Cathie Lesjak, hopes that a single 3D printer can replace multiple manufacturing machines, which will cut costs as well as reduce outsourcing requirements.

But if you’re a 3D print enthusiast who’s dabbled in the art and are curious about what HP can offer you, don’t get too excited just yet: Lesjak specifically stated that “We’re really not terribly interested in consumer 3D [printing], we’re interested in commercial.”

And that’s disappointing, because HP’s printer makes use of an exciting technology referred to as “Multi Jet Fusion”, a process which leverages HP’s experience with regular, paper, inkjet printers. It turns filament to liquid and then shoots it in through jets; the liquid filament then fuses together with an application of chemical agents and energy. If you’ve got a head for mechanical details (and the will to read through marketing spin) you can read a technical white paper on the process.

Long story short, because the printer uses a similar technique to HP’s inkjet printing system, the process results in a far higher 3D print resolution compared to other 3D printers. That’s something you don’t need to be a business to appreciate.

As with everything enterprise-related, we expect the price of one of these machines to be eye-watering, but we don’t have a solid Rand figure yet. Also in question at the moment is local availability.

While many see 3D printers as personal machines that yield low amounts of prints, we have seen industrial machines tasked with being small manufacturing plants unto themselves. Granted, they’re about the size of a room and cost around R10 million, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

The days of a self-contained factory sitting on your desk will hopefully be here soon; we have a ring of fighting robots that need to be built. Today’s not that day, but as HP refines its 3D printing technology and the home market grows, it could happen sooner rather than later.

[Source – PC World]