HP makes its enterprise 3D printer splash, available for preorder starting at $130,000

The 3D printing system, dubbed the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, targets additive manufacturing and the enterprise. The catch: The competition isn't standing still and HP's initial system will be available later in 2016 with a followup in 2017.

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In a move that was telegraphed nearly 18 months ago, HP launched its 3D printing system and a bevy of partners.

The 3D printing system, dubbed the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, is designed for additive manufacturing and the enterprise. The system will go head-to-head with rivals such as Stratasys and 3D Systems. The 3D printing market has slowed given economic turmoil globally and the buying pause ahead of HP's entry to the market.

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HP's 3D printing system is designed to deliver physical parts faster with lower costs. The HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution is aimed at 3D print service bureaus. HP preannounced its 3D printing move October 29, 2014.

According to HP, its 3D printing system will enable:

  • Rapid prototyping via simplified workflows;
  • A platform that aims to create a materials and innovation ecosystem for multiple industries;
  • An ability to operate at 340 million voxels per second (a voxel is the 3D printing version of a pixel in 2D printing);
  • Partners that include BMW, Nike, Autodesk, Johnson & Johnson and others. These co-development partners are also customers.

The family of HP Jet Fusion 3D printers includes the 3200 printer, which is designed for prototyping, and the 4200, which is for short-run manufacturing. Both printers will have a set of tools that includes software, processing stations and cooling systems.

Another big bet for HP is that it can better create an ecosystem around its 3D printing systems. Arkema, BASF, Evonik and Lehmann & Voss are initial partners as well as Autodesk, Materialise and Siemens on the software side.

The vision

HP said its plan is to offer more materials and colors as well as create parts on the fly. HP also said it plans to enable its 3D printing systems to "to print with embedded intelligence, like sensors in parts, is key to the Internet of Things."

That move is interesting. HP also aims to add security such as invisible codes in 3D printed parts for supply chain tracking.

To round out the 3D system, HP also aims to tie its Sprout software and PCs to bring additive manufacturing to more small businesses and education.

HP's vision can work, but it's worth noting that the competition isn't standing still. The catch is that HP's launch doesn't mean systems are immediately available. The HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Printer will be available in late 2016 and the 3200 arrives in 2017.

As for pricing, the 3200 starts at $130,000 and the 4200 be $155,000 for a base system.

The competition

HP's launch and outline of its 3D printing splash comes just a few weeks after Stratasys launched the J750 3D printer.

Stratasys' system eliminates the need to paint and other steps in the prototyping workflow. The J750 is also available now. Stratasys' J750 can also print in 360,000 colors.

TechRepublic's Jason Hiner recently went on a tour of the Stratasys system and talked to customers such as Otterbox.

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On the software side, Stratasys has integrated with Adobe, which is product designers' go to suite.

What will be interesting to watch is how HP competes with the incumbent competitors. For enterprises, it's clear that the game is on for additive manufacturing and 3D printing.

Here's a look at what the J750 does: