Seeking to transform the $12 trillion manufacturing market, HP said Thursday that it aims to start selling a 3D metal printing platform in 2018.
HP has developed a "novel 3D metal approach," Stephen Nigro, president of HP's 3DP business, said at the HP Securities Analyst Meeting in Palo Alto, Calif., calling it "a major step for HP 3D printing aspiration."
While 3D metal printing is now available for more specialized, high-value products, Nigro said HP's innovations "will transform [3D metal printing] into more mainstream, high-volume production."
Nigro also told analysts that HP in 2018 intends to bring to market full color 3D printing. HP, he said, will be the only 3D printing company on the market offering "mechanically robust and fully functional full-color parts."
HP sold its first 3D printer at the end of 2016 and has grown the business significantly since then, with business in all regions around the globe and more than 65 channel partners.
HP CFO Cathie Lesjak warned that the 3D printing business is not yet profitable and "still very much in investment mode."
3D printing, she said, is a long-term priority for the business. "Maybe one of our concerns for 3D is whether you all are going to have the confidence and patience the wait for the results," she added at the meeting. "It will take time."
CEO Dion Weisler acknowledged 3D printing may not be materially important for the company's current revenues. That said, he added, is it "materially important to the strategic direction of this company? Absolutely, yes." He pointed to the potential for transforming the manufacturing market.