Additive fabrication system maker, Stratasys, Inc. (NASDAQ: SSYS) announced it has delivered its first shipments of HP-branded 3D printers. Stratasys and HP co-developed the exclusive 3D printer systems, which are manufactured by Stratasys, as part of a global manufacturing agreement with HP (NYSE: HPQ), as announced in January.
HP launched its Designjet 3D products in Europe recently, making it the only major manufacturer of 2D (or paper) printers in the 3D printer market. The products will be available this May in five European markets: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
“The agreement to develop and manufacture a product to HP’s specification is a milestone for us,” says Stratasys CEO Scott Crump. “Today, we’re taking a big step in realizing the agreement’s potential by demonstrating we can deliver.”
“There are millions of 3D designers using 2D printers who are ready to bring their designs to life in 3D,” says Santiago Morera, HP’s vice president and general manager of its Large Format Printing Business. “Stratasys FDM technology is the ideal platform for HP to enter the 3D MCAD printing market and begin to capitalize on this untapped opportunity.”
Stratasys manufactures 3D printers under the Dimension brand, and it makes 3D production systems under the Fortus brand. Both product lines, as well as the HP-branded 3D printers employ Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, which creates three-dimensional plastic models directly from a CAD file. The patented process creates parts by extruding semi-molten plastic in thin layers to “grow” the part, layer by layer. The process of producing a part layer-by-layer is known generically as “additive fabrication” or “additive manufacturing.”
The technology to produce 3D models directly from a digital design has been commercial for more than 20 years, but recent advances in 3D printers have dramatically reduced their cost and improved ease-of-use and reliability. Stratasys introduced its Dimension 3D printer line in 2002, with the first printer priced under $30,000. Early last year, Dimension broke the $15,000 (USD) barrier with its office-friendly uPrint, which fits on a desktop. HP’s Graphic Solutions Business – part of the company’s $24 billion Imaging and Printing Group – executed the distribution agreement with Stratasys. HP is a leading provider of Designjet and Scitex large-format printing solutions, Indigo digital solutions for commercial and industrial printing, inkjet high-speed production solutions and specialty printing systems.