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HP making its contribution to growing 3D printer market

Last year saw an increase in global shipments in industrial focused 3D printers with HP one of the vendors looking to make a growing impression in the market

HP is having an impact in the industrial 3D printing segment as the vendor helped that end of the market deliver decent growth figures last year.

The vendor might not have been in the market as long as some of its rivals but comes with an established channel network, which is proving to be an asset as it builds sales and market share.

At the end of February when discussing the firm's Q1 numbers HP's CEO Dion Weisler told analysts that it was committed to expanding its footprint in the 3D world.

"We are expanding both our production and prototyping install base across the automotive, high-end industrial, consumer and healthcare markets. Millions of final production parts are now being produced each quarter on the Multi Jet Fusion platform and the range of applications in printers is incredible," he said.

Figures from Context found that last year the personal 3D printers struggled but the industrial category, which accounts for 70% of the global hardware revenues, saw shipments increase y-o-y by 18% and that shows no sign of reversing in 2019.

Shipments of metal printers were up but so too were polymer models, the type produced by HP, Carbon and 3D systems.

Chris Connery, VP of global research at Context, said that there were developments in the metal printing market that were driving the sales of that technology.

“New, lower priced metal 3D Printers are targeted not just for factory use but also for office use and do not necessarily compete head-to-head with the more traditional robust metal 3D printers which use lasers to fuse powder in a single-step such as those from GE Additive, EOS, SLM Solutions, 3D Systems and others,” he said.

“Powder Bed laser-based 3D Printers are currently used for everything from jet engine parts to orthopaedic implants. New lower-priced metal printers look to augment this usage to now allow for more economical ways to create metal prototypes for these parts as well as allow for cheaper low-volume production of metal parts," he added.

HP is expected to get more involved with the metal segment but over the last year has been pushing its own innovation with its polymer fusion technology and is using 3D printing in its supply chain to help produce its own hardware parts.

Context is forecasting that this year will see the shipment of 25% more machines in the combined Industrial and Design segments than shipped globally last year. Metal printer shipments are projected to see year-on-year unit-volume growth rates of over 49% with polymer machine shipments expected to grow by over 20%.

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