Stratasys plans to extend its 3-D printer manufacturing agreement with Hewlett-Packard after a successful partial introduction that began in Europe.
Stratasys and HP co-developed exclusive 3-D printer systems, which are being manufactured by Stratasys. HP launched its Designjet 3-D
products last April, making it the only major manufacturer of 2-D (or paper) printers in the 3D printer market. The products were initially sold in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.††
"HP's orders exceeded their original forecasts," Stratasys CEO Scott Crump said January 14 in a presentation to the 13th Annual Growth Conference held by Needham & Co. in New York City. Crump said the collaboration will expand to new geographical areas and will include introduction of new products. He did not offer additional specifics, although global distribution is the eventual goal.††
When the collaboration was announced last year, Santiago Morera, HP's vice president and general manager of its Large Format Printing Business said, "There are millions of 3-D designers using 2-D printers who are ready to bring their designs to life in 3-D. Stratasys FDM technology is the ideal platform for HP to enter the 3-D MCAD printing market and begin to capitalize on this untapped opportunity."††
Stratasys manufactures 3-D printers under the Dimension brand, and it makes 3-D production systems under the Fortus brand. Both product lines, as well as the HP-branded 3-D printers are based on Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, which creates three-dimensional plastic models directly from a CAD file.††
One of the advantages of FDM is that it uses actual production plastics, providing opportunities for functional testing, not just form-and-fit trials. †
The term "3-D printer" was first used by Stratasys when it introduced its first compact system co-developed with IBM in the mid-1990s. 3-D printer is now widely used to describe a segment of additive fabrication machines that generally describe a compact, low-price unit that is easy to operate.††
Several technologies with different benefits are used to make three-dimensional parts for testing.††
The four major 3-D printer suppliers in the United States outline their technologies in a just-released Design News webcast
, "Inexpensive 3-D Printers: Rapid Prototyping for Everyone".