The second half of 2014 is certainly turning out to be an exciting one within the 3D printing space. Not only have we seen a deluge of new printers being unveiled over the last couple of months, by some of the largest names within the industry, but new companies have entered the industry with billions of dollars to possibly play with. Will we look back at 2014 as the year things really got started? I wouldn’t be surprised one bit! The highlight for me this year has been the entrance of two multi-billion dollar companies into the space.
Back in May Autodesk surprised us all when they announced the Spark platform for 3D printing, as well as revealing what is now called their Ember 3D printer. Spark is very promising, as it could enable a unified platform for 3D printing across all areas, including consumer based FDM and SLA printers, all the way to $1 million+ laser sintering machines. Some have used the phrase, ‘Android OS of 3D printing’ to describe its potential.
Then, just over a month ago HP announced their entrance into the 3D printing space with a new technology they call Multi Jet Fusion. This technology, according to HP (NYSE: HPQ), will make 3D printing over 10 times faster than current technology on the market today. With billions of dollars backing them, HP seems to have what it takes to push the boundaries of 3D printing innovation while creating a more affordable and capable machine. Although their first 3D printer, which will target businesses rather than consumers, won’t be available until 2016, the announcement alone should create a bit of an innovation frenzy among their biggest competitors.
Despite both these major announcements in the last six months, today we have just received word from Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) of yet another major move within the space, one which excites me even more about the whole industry’s future. HP and Autodesk have announced a partnership, which is elaborated upon below:
“Autodesk and HP have worked together for a long time, wrote Samir Hanna, Vice President and General Manager, Consumer and 3D Printing at Autodesk, and Scott Schiller, WW Business Director at HP, in a letter on the Autodesk blog. “We share a vision to drive technology innovation and provide the best products and experiences to our customers. Today, Autodesk and HP expand the alignment of our offerings to push 3D printing forward and drive toward a new industrial revolution that changes the way we design and manufacture things. We have a common goal to unlock 3D printing’s full promise such as higher speeds, higher quality, and improved reliability. Thus, HP is adopting Spark to integrate it with HP’s Multi Jet Fusion platform.”
By integrating the Spark platform into HP’s new 3D printers, the possibilities for further innovation is quite high. The sophisticated tools provided within the platform will enable users to experiment with various material mixtures, designs, and ideas. Spark’s intuitive nature should provide a simple, easy-to-learn user interface for HP’s new machines as they make their way into the market. The possibilities found within this partnership are really endless, as both the Spark platform, and HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology, further develop in the years ahead. It will be interesting to see if this move pushes HP’s competitors, such as 3D Systems and Stratasys, to also adopt the Spark Platform.
We are about to enter a very exciting period within the industry as new players enter, partner, and slowly begin rolling out their visions for the additive manufacturing space. Let’s hear your thoughts on today’s news in the HP & Autodesk 3D Printing Partnership forum thread on 3DPB.com.