Stratasys sees robust 3D-printing market as HP reveals plans

31 Oct 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

HP launches new 3D printer and Sprout desktop PC.

HP reasserted itself as a key technology innovator on Wednesday, with the launch of two new products, a faster 3D printing technology for large companies and an interactive desktop computer for consumers. (Relaxnews) – HP wants to blur the lines between digital and physical creativity and believes the answer is the Sprout, a truly novel new computer that lets people get hands on with designs, literally. HP plans to deliver a new 3D printer in 2016, that can produce 3D parts in color and manipulate its form, texture, strength, elasticity, friction as well as electrical and thermal properties. The Sprout has a downward-facing 3-D scanner/camera/projector, and the machine comes with a touch-sensitive 20-inch mat that allows you to manipulate the digital things projected onto it.

An all-in-one PC with an integrated 3D scanner, a projector and a 20-inch touch mat where the keyboard would traditionally sit, the Sprout is meant to represent what HP calls the latest in ‘blended reality’. The products are seen as key to the company’s push into what it calls “blended reality,” technology that bridges the gap between three-dimensional reality and two-dimensional images on screens.

Hewlett-Packard on Wednesday said it had developed 3D-printing technology that can print 10 times faster at considerably less expense than current products, and that it plans to launch the technology broadly in 2016. During a launch demo in New York City this week, HP described the machine as the first product in its “Blended Reality” lineup, an effort to streamline the interface between real and virtual objects. HP says its technology will speed up 3D printing ten times faster compared to what is currently available in the market through selective laser sintering (which prints objects point by point) and fused deposition modeling (which lays down plastic in toothpaste-like layers). Then the projector will project the digitized image onto the mat and you can manipulate it with your hands. ‘Touch’ it, turn it around, pull it and stretch it — think Iron Man — the computer uses an array of cameras to track your position relative to the object so that everything moves and flows smoothly.

The company has offered PCs and peripherals with futuristic input technologies in the past year, including laptops, desktops, and keyboards with integrated Leap Motion sensors. For example, to print 1,000 gears using HP’s multi jet printer, it would take 3 hours, when under laser sintering it would take 38 hours to print that amount of gears, HP said. “This speed will really help us put 3D printing in more applications and in more and more cases,” said Ramon Pastor, vice president and general manager of HP’s large format printing business in an interview with The Chronicle. For the desktop market of printers under $10,000, it said it holds 35 percent share, largely through its MakerBot branded printers. “Of course we are concerned about it,” Reis said in the interview, regarding the HP announcement. “But I think that we have a lot in our pocket.

Once you’ve finished playing at Tony Stark you can hit print and send it to HP’s first 3D printer — the Multi Jet Fusion. “We live in a 3D world, but today we create in a 2D world on existing devices,” said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president, Consumer PC & Solutions, HP. “Sprout by HP is a big step forward in reimagining the boundaries of how we create and engage with technology to allow users to move seamlessly from thought to expression.” Away from virtual reality manipulation, the Sprout PC is also a traditional desktop. Meanwhile, research firm Gartner estimates the demand for 3D printers worldwide will increase tremendously, with shipments continuing to more than double each year between 2015 and 2018. It runs the latest version of Windows and packs a Core i7 Intel processor, Nvidia graphics and has a 1TB hard disk so should be equally impressive at doing less Iron Man things such as running Photoshop, gaming and video editing. For HP, “this could be the equivalent of their iPad,” said Rob Enderle with advisory services firm Enderle Group. “This is something that could put HP printing back on the map.

In addition to acting as a second screen projected onto the surface where your keyboard would normally be, Sprout’s camera/projector mount—dubbed the “HP Illuminator”—also acts as a scanner. It could take it away from a legacy, dying division to one that is high growth again.” HP also introduced its $1,899 all-in-one desktop computer, called Sprout, that will hit stores Nov. 9. You can place documents or objects in front of the computer, scan them with the Sprout’s 14.6-megapixel and depth-sensing Intel RealSense cameras, and then use the multitouch mat to move those scanned objects around and resize them. What sets the Sprout apart is its dual-screen interface, in which users can touch and interact with both the 23-inch display and a 20-point touch-pad.

For example, Microsoft has integrated scanning functions into the Sprout-optimized version of Office, such as the ability to scan and recognize printed text and insert it into a document. Users can scan 3-D or 2-D items, or drag and drop images stored in the computer by putting fingertips on the display and flicking the image down to the touch-pad. For example, a person working on building a print advertisement on their Sprout machine can share what they are working on in real time through HP software called MyRoom. At the launch event, HP stressed the benefits the system will have for creative types, including artists, designers, photo editors, and distributed teams that need to collaborate on projects in real-time.

This could entice more people to upgrade their PCs during the holiday shopping season, particularly for professionals in creative fields who are already spending lots of money on computers like Apple’s $2,499 iMac with 5K retina display. “This is not a mainstream, sell hundreds of millions of units type product,” said Tom Mainelli with research and advisory firm IDC. “It really puts HP’s innovative streak front and center. In Sprout’s collaboration software, teams can see and communicate with each other via video chat on the main screen while working on a shared project on the mat. One of the participating retailers, Best Buy, said it will have interactive Sprout displays at 30 stores in 11 markets, including San Francisco, by Thanksgiving.

It runs on a 3.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU with 8GB RAM in its base configuration, and it’s equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 745A graphics card with 2GB RAM.

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