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HP 3D printing (hp.com)
179 points by zwieback on Oct 29, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 83 comments

"Shortcomings of the STL format in terms of processing time and object dimensional precision are a barrier for the production of complex, high-precision parts ... this format only allows geometric representation, so it does not allow voxel-by-voxel information to be carried from the CAD software to the printer. To realize the full potential of 3D printing, the roadmaps of 3D printers and 3D CAD software must be aligned, and the roadmaps must be accompanied by a change to a more information-rich file format."

To me, this right here is the heart of the white paper. If they want their machine to stand apart from polyjet (Objet) technology by printing with per-voxel control of multiple materials (very similar to Objet's digital materials [0]), then they're going to have to create a new workflow for engineers to design with (which was not detailed in the whitepaper other than this mentioning of a new kind of file format needed to handle the design information). Particularly, is the design workflow going to allow for finite element analysis (FEA) of both geometry and material? People are already creating CAD software that will allow for user-friendly FEA of geometry [1], but I'm not sure if anyone is working on FEA of both geometry and material. If HP can develop that solution, that right there would be a legitimate breakthrough.

[0]: http://www.stratasys.com/materials/polyjet/digital-materials [1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MU3W-RrJDT4#t=327

I am working on this product. It really is awesome: the level of excitement among the engineers reminds me of the HP of 15 years ago. And I completely agree with your assessment. Figuring out the right workflow is going to be the cornerstone, not only for our printer but for the future of the industry.

>Figuring out the right workflow is going to be the cornerstone

Rule 1. There is more than one workflow.

Pretty please: Make sure there is proper software for at least Linux or OSX.

printing electrical circuits on something robust enough to use in a production device would be pretty killer IMHO. (Solid yet thin plastic base, enough conductive material to not get scratched off too easily).

Where is the development happing? SF or Barcelona?

Barcelona, with teams in Palo Alto and San Diego.

It's not too hard to separate 2 colors. (Just have separate STL files for each color). I do this currently.

I don't think many designs will really require "pixelized" variations in color like their demo shows. Just putting a transparent layer, or 5 colors, will provide for ~80% of predicted use cases. So, a simple "STL per color" format can act as a "bridge" until the necessary richer standard is developed & adopted.

Key words from the video: could, imagine, future, possibilities

Words lacking from the video: can, will, does, now, reality

THIS. They need to add a "buy now" button or a "pre-order" button. A price estimate would be nice.

I don't think many people will click the "buy now" button on a $100K+ printer.

It's only $100! Thew cartridges are $100,000.

This is all I can think of when using HP printers. They will saturate the market and then destroy aftermarket 3d printing materials with DRM

Agreed. I can only hope that today is a new era, where open source software is mature enough, and manufacturing of tools is ubiquitous and cheap enough that a large company like HP will not be able to manipulate the market the way they've been able to in the past.

I don't think it is likely these days anyway, especially when it is not a consumer product.

HP is getting this right. HP has a long history of understanding what goes on at the nozzle of an inkjet. Intuition fails at that scale; you have to do fluid dynamics calculations. HP did that decades ago.

They propose to lay down not only material, but an extra solvent where they need to tweak the properties a bit. That's borrowed from the printing press sized printers where accurate color on non-gloss paper is desired.

Being able to construct materials with non-homogeneous properties has potential. Mark Cutkowsky at Stanford has done that to make gekko feet for his climbing robots. That was done by loading up a "color" 3D printer with plastics with varying properties. But that machine couldn't mix the plastics; you could just switch between them. Full variability of material properties could be useful. It's going to be hard to talk about at the user interface level, and the first UIs will probably be kind of clunky.

STL is really an output format, like PostScript. You don't want to work in STL; you want to work in a constructive solid geometry system, like SolidWorks or Autodesk Inventor. In systems like that, you can move a hole. Try that on a mesh.

The challenge is that solid modeling programs are very difficult to learn and they're expensive proprietary software. I've used one and half the class didn't "get it".

We need cruder sculpting tools for mass market use - some folks need Illustrator, some folks need Paint.NET. Obviously the latter problem is easier to solve and I'm hoping we'll see more democratization of 3D printing through more tools at that end.

I've always hoped to see Wings3D get more love in this field, but Wings is written in Erlang so that restricts how many developers can meaningfully contribute. Wings is polygonal, but it's a subdivision modeler so it means that all the models are inherently volumetric which makes it appropriate for printing - no possibility of an "open" object.

Autodesk's CEO says most people won't do real 3D modeling starting with a blank screen, but they'll color and rescale existing 3D models, then print them. His daughter makes dollhouse furniture that way. So they're building low-end tools that are much simpler, like 123 Design. 123Design is really the Autodesk Inventor engine with a dumbed-down UI, a different file format, and built for 32 bits and one CPU. There are even mobile versions.

Autodesk did this to get more people thinking about how to design in 3D. The idea is to teach the mindset and workflow needed to get work done in a constructive solid geometry system. A lot of people don't "get it" at first, but after a while it makes sense to build up an object through a series of operations.

They're still struggling with how much to dumb it down. In beta, 123Design was more powerful than it is now, but more complex. It's been dumbed down; you don't get to see or manipulate the tree of CSG operations that created the object any more. Now there's 123Design at the bottom, Fusion 360 (which does a lot of work on Autodesk's servers rather than locally), and Inventor, for serious engineering.

So the "cruder sculpting tools" are here. For real sculpting, there's Autodesk Mudbox, which tries to simulate clay modeling. (I haven't used that; I don't have the sculpting skill.)

I would love an affordable 3D printer. But I don't really trust HP to do that. I already got rid of my 2D HP printer because I was sick of paying insane prices for ink cartridges. And I swear every time I printed something on that thing it would complain that another cartridge was low.

Affordable is the problem I have with the current 3D printing culture. It seems kind of senseless for everyone to have a prototyping machine at your home (although a fun hobby).

I would much rather have the most accurate reproduction of material qualities and form. I can now produce industry level magazines and milled metal parts by having them produced on a high end machine somewhere, it does not need to be in my basement.

That's the real empowering point for me. Industrial level quality obtainable by a single user from home.

find older business full color laser printer instead. I got oldish HP LaserJet 3600n which have both cheap cartridges and a way to override low toner lever warning.

For a home printer I love my Konica Minolta MC1600W. Cost <$150 on Amazon, "ink" lasts forever, and replacement toner kit is cheaper than many Inkjet replacements.

Plus it's quick, and produces great everything. Probably wouldn't satisfy a professional photographer, but for me it's a lot better than any Inkjet I've ever owned. Especially since it's used so infrequently. With Inkjets the print-heads would frequently go bad between usages. That could easily push my "few pages to print every few months" use-case into dollar-per-page territory.

The only downside is it doesn't have air-print, never will, KM has discontinued it, and at some point in the future I won't be able to buy replacement toner cartridges.

But I'm OK with that since it's already lasted longer and saved me more money than any previous printer I've owned.

If I did have to replace it, I'd definitely get another Color Laser. The Brother HL3170CDW comes in at $100 more, you can get all four colors in high-yield replacement cartridges for about $100, and it includes AirPrint.

My understanding is that AirPrint is basically a linux CUPS server. A quick Google search turned up several write-ups on using a Raspberry Pi to add wireless & AirPrint capabilities to older printers. I know there are also some retail routers & print servers that do the same since I was researching this for my parents about a year ago, but they were on the expensive side.

If I could buy something pre-packaged for $50 I might do it. Being able to roll the printer stand into a corner and leave it there would be nice.

Right now I use a $10 app that'll emulate AirPrint on the Mac. Seems to work fine, but I'm tethered to the attached Mac then.

Yep, I've got a cups server on my linux box to support the laptops in the house, and the ipad recognized it just fine. Nice bit of accidental compatibility there.

It's not that accidental. CUPS is developed by Apple.

That's ok. They occupy a different plac in the cost vs reliability spectrum.

I know, I'm just saying I wouldn't trust HP to put out a reliable and low cost product.

If their 3D printers are as reliable as their 2D printers, I may as well burn my cash :-)

I assume you're implying that their 2D printers suck. Even so, a 3D printer that was as reliable as a terrible 2D printer would be ridiculously awesome right now.

Yes, not only is the ink overpriced as hell, they can't even manage to make their office inkjets work without completely dying after a few thousand pages.

> insane prices for ink cartridges.

I know right? Printer ink is more expensive than human blood. Not even kidding.


How are the two comparable? Production, distribution, and storage costs are vastly different.

You might as well compare the price with jet fuel, too.

True, printer ink is mass production so it should be much cheaper.

Printing with blood is more of a niche market right now.

Hussein used to do that, but it never went mainstream [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Quran]

Human blood is far more mass produced than printer ink. There are currently about 7 billion mostly independently owned and operated production facilities. The problem is the supply lines and market prices. Distribution of the surplus also tends to be fairly shitty.

(that last bit was a poop joke, not a statement about my opinions on the subject of donated blood distribution)

I thought the joke was about the medical practice of bleeding.

If someone has too much blood does it really get disposed of that way?

That's interesting, I didn't know that.

If my memory serves, it's more a disposal for old damaged red blood cells than just disposal of excess.

And that's why I print all my documents in blood.

Arduino Materia

In one web page, we are able to see all the problems with HP vs. a start-up's minimal viable product:

* Employees used to make HP webpage: 1. Web Designer for responsive web page, 2. Industrial Designer (Printer Design) 3. 3D Graphics for video 4. Audio Editor for video 5. Audio Talent for video, 6. Copy editor for corporate speak (probably one for video and one for webpage) 7. Legal department for footnotes. This is all before a single product can be purchased. Compare this to an MVP where there is a video demonstration of the product and how you fit with it.

* Video does not show a single printing machine doing just an imagination of what can be, suggesting this is a corporate video for shareholders instead of users.

* The product is not available for purchase and there is no time line to expect purchase. There are a number of 3d printers available to purchase right now, no need to wait for this printer to come out.

* From the paper and soggypenny's quote: "shortcomings of the STL format..." is a great reason to introduce an AutoCad / Microstation / Sketchup plugin software to easily render for a 3-D format.

* Call to action "Connect with Us" takes you to a multi-line e-mail form for their internal databases. Compare this with an MVP that just wants your e-mail and your name.

HP, great step forward in your effort to try and recover from potential insolvency. Please look at your competition before getting my hopes up and dashed in one web page.

They're doing MVP a bit better than you think. They start with the sales pipeline and if they don't get the number and quality of prospects up to where they want it they can adjust their vision before they go through expensive builds. On top of that they are heading off a whole pile of would-be-buyers who will now postpone their 'brand-x' purchase until they see what HP really has to offer.

This is not nearly as stupid as you make it seem.

You bring up a good point jacquesm. When you think of it as HP trying to identify market segments, the connect to us form includes company information and position. You could database possible applications.

I do not feel they are stupid, just noting the amount of monies poured into this website for a non-functional product for a company that is desperately seeking revenue. Can HP R&D make it to 2016?

You're assuming that the people who built the site could be working elsewhere in HP producing revenue. HP already employs the content creators and lawyers, so they are already spending the money whether this site is created or not. HP has a huge sales engine and customer base, so marketing new products like this is perfect for getting feedback while producing the product.

I agree with you. The level of waste from these large companies just makes me even more angry that they're able to persist at these rates. However, money is power is money is power is money is power is money is power...

Before the split they where easily making 5+ billion profit per year and had 317,500 Employees. So, while I don't know all the numbers post split I doubt there having many issues right now.

HP needs to satisfy shareholders whereas startups need to satisfy customers.

Say what you want about it being vaporware, but this actually does look pretty promising as a new 3DP process.

Yes, indeed. The whitepaper details the process:


Yea, that's what got me excited!

"solution is built on HP’s proprietary synchronous architecture and multi-agent printing process."

I will always be annoyed when I see proprietary as a touted piece of marketing speak. Its not a feature, its a problem or at best a dissapointment

Would you complain if they said "innovative" instead? Because almost all innovations start out proprietary and in many cases are only created because ownership of the technology can pay back its cost.

perhaps. I would agree that many things start proprietary because owning the IP is where a lot of the value is, but, as a consumer, the fact that it is proprietary presents no additional value to me. If I was investing I might see it as a good thing. Instead I read it as: check out our new device for selling you 100 dollar cartridges that will only be available from us.

Writing "proprietary" instead of "innovative" is one example of a company looking at things from their own perspective instead of the customer's perspective. Unfortunately that's so endemic [1] that many people have learned to automatically translate it and don't see it as unusual.

[1] see http://www.nngroup.com/articles/top-10-mistakes-of-web-manag... from 1997

Let's wait a bit then:

"Availability of the end to end HP 3D printing system is planned in 2016, as the product and HP partners’ solutions meet the requirements and quality stand ards that HP customers expect."

Maybe it's just me but seeing the cartridges in the front of that printer reminds me of why I bought a laser printer and ditched my (HP) inkjet printer. The supply cost for a 3D printer that uses plastic filament is significantly higher than buying the same weight of beaded plastic used in injection molding. I suspect buying HP's cartridges to be the same order of magnitude more expensive. They like the consumables business ... why would they change?

exactly! I saw those cartridge slots and thought its the same HP strangle-hold all over again. HP lives for vendor-lockin. Locked in to the data format, locked into the cartridges, and whatever else they can think of.

I do have tons of respect for the abilities of HP's research dept to make just this kind of printer. Its fantastic and thrilling to think of the research resources of HP moving 3D printing forward. The HP suits will make sure the attached business model imprisons the technological gains.

As I understand it, that's only because consumers weren't amenable to paying the real price of the hardware up front. Much like video game consoles. If the manufacturer didn't have the game market locked down, they would have to sell the consoles for several hundred dollars more, which strangles demand.

The lock-in model is, in many cases, an effective way at reducing the front-loaded nature of captial expense. The lock-in is defended because if it vanishes halfway through the market play, the whole play fails.

Anybody working on this project here? I'm genuinely curious if they've invented some new photopolymer resin that cures faster.

Current 3D Printers need to make the same leap as desktop printers did from dot matrix to laser in speed and fidelity to really change peoples' minds about their utility.

Either way, congrats HP on diving into the deep end of the pool here.

This is a strange page.

From the video:

  Terry Wholers: "We are in the early days of 3D printing"
  Carl Bass: "The far more interesting thing is going to be industrial uses..."
Terry is very wrong. 3D printing is not new it's over 30 years old. In the video it almost sounds like he has never seen 3d printing before.

Carl Bass (Autodesk) seems to understand what is going on. He is talking about the industrial uses of 3D printing.

And that's why I think this page is strange. People in the industry already know about multi-material 3D printing sometimes called PolyJet.

Edit: Looks like HP is using these steps to print:

  1 lay down a layer of material(s)
  2 spray a binder over the layer
  3 bind the layer by applying energy (UV curing?)
  4 goto 1

I think you misunderstood the point. He is saying there is a lot of room for invention in 3D printing technology with large margins for improvement.

I can't even imagine how expensive consumables for an HP branded printer will be!

Mind you, there's a lot of room for innovation in this space. I just don't see HP as being positioned to really expand the technology in any meaningful way.

One of the things HP is bringing to the table is very wide print bars, e.g. a whole "page" can be printed in one pass.

They sort of lost me when their promo video showed computer renderings of circuit boards. This feels a long way off..

I met the Cartesian Co. guys at Maker Faire Atlanta. They have a working circuit board printer available for sale right now.


They do claim their printers will allow control over electrical properties: > with control over part and material properties beyond those found in other 3D printing processes, from texture, friction, strength, and elasticity, to electrical and thermal properties, and more

So you should be able to say one part of the board you are printing is electrical and one part is not. That said, none of this is selling now, so it is all just a marketing gimmick.

Yes it's just a long-term vision:

"The long-term vision for HP Multi Jet Fusion technology is to create parts with controllably variable — even quite different — mechanical and physical properties within a single part or among separate parts processed simultaneously in the working area..."

Circuit boards seem pretty straightforward — you need a substrate material and a conductive material. A lot of the other stuff seemed much more fanciful.

through hole might not be so trivial...

There's nothing simpler than printing a hole. I just did one now using my powers of the mind.

Why would that matter if it is printing the entire board? It is not like it is printing on the board surface, it is printing the entire thing, so it can make a column of electrically conductive material straight through the entire depth as it lays down the rest of that depth with other materials.

Still quite vague... 2016 launch. On the plus side, several materials are discussed (even metal).

Am I the only one who sees the main image is photoshopped!?

Will I have to buy official HP brand plastic cartridges?

"HP Multi Jet Fusion technology enables the world to realize the full potential of 3D printing—in highly functional parts—with control over part and material properties beyond those found in other 3D printing processes, from texture, friction, strength, and elasticity, to electrical and thermal properties, and more."

If what they say it's true, this thing will rock.

Printer will cost $100. The building material is $500/lb though.

Generic "HP 3D printer compatible" building material sounds like it could be a nice, profitable little niche...

Yeah, I was expecting that when they mentioned something along the lines of "leveraging years of experience in the consumer printing business".

It's an enterprise product, e.g. the printer will be expensive and the service will be accessible to consumers via service providers.

There's a general consensus that the hobbyist market is well served but there's room for service providers of high quality 3D printed parts.

http://www.peachyprinter.com/ is a photolithographic printer in beta stage development which is aiming to sell at a similar price.

... no. Not even in the same category. Not even close to the same price range.

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