PLASTIC JAM OPEN INPUT TRAYS. HP has joined the party and our first spy photo below of the HP 3DJet has impressed me. HP seems serious about putting a 3D printer on everyone’s desk. Which is great because right now I don’t even have a regular printer on my desk so there is plenty of room for a 3D printer.


Imagine a future where everyone has a 3D printer. It will be amazing. UPS would only deliver 3D printing materials. All their packages would be exactly the same. You quickly 3D print some cutlery for your guests just before they arrive, only to have the printer stop working because you ran out of Cyan. Or you 3D print a game character for your child, only to have the MPAA sue you for $1,800,000 because the movie Avatar holds the copyright for all the avatars anywhere, anytime. A friend would send you a better mousetrap via the internets and you could try it out for real shortly after. Unless of course you happen to open the file with Adobe Reader 3D, because I’m guessing that this would take more time than you have on this earth. Environmentalists will have to put “please don’t 3D print this” stickers on everything, every single thing on the planet, even all of the ideas.

In all seriousness, the moment that HP joined Stratasys in manufacturing 3D printers is a watershed. A $100 billion dollar revenue hardware and technology services firm is saying, “we would like to take this technology and make it mainstream.” This marks the moment when 3D printing turned from techno-spielerei and the pioneering efforts of a few technology companies into a thing for MBAs to think about. Makerbot already succeeded in putting an affordable 3D printer out there. Shapeways means that anyone can buy or make 3D printed things inexpensively already. EOS, Stratasys, Zcorp, Objet and 3D Systems have been showing people for years how powerful the technology is. The significance of HP lies in putting a huge company with incredible scope and considerable marketing prowess in the middle of 3D printing industry.

As a result eleven things are now happening or will happen as a result of HP joining up with Stratasys and entering the 3D printing market:

  1. Many more stock and industry analysts are looking at the rapid manufacturing industry than before. These analysts are now mulling the significance of 3D printing as a consumer proposition. Their ideas will spread through finance and industry.
  2. Marketeers and B2B salespeople at HP are now thinking about they will sell 3D printers to their channels. Their ideas will for a large part re-define how 3D printers are sold.
  3. These same newly minted HP 3D printing Marketing people will also be totally angry when they discover that Desktop Factory is already taken.
  4. HP competitors and other hardware companies are deciding if this is a business they want to be in.
  5. Ten thousand people have started writing business plans about their amazing 3D printing start ups.
  6. Venture Capital people are going to be asking themselves the question, “are we smarter than HP or is HP smarter than we?”
  7. Business Development people at rapid manufacturing companies are scrambling through their Rolodexes with panicked fingers in search of that one nerdy kid that ended up doing something vague at Dell.
  8. People at Mckinsey job interviews and business schools will be asked, “how much would a desktop 3D printer that could print anything sell for?”
  9. Business Week is trying to find the Kevin Rose of 3D printing so they can put him on the cover. It will, amazingly, take them a while to find Bre Pettis, but it will happen.
  10. It will at first become much more difficult and later much easier to explain what I do at family get togethers.

In short the passionate few, the adventurers, the nerds, the people plugging away for years at ideas, the people that got their hands dirty are now going to be joined by people with weird job titles. Pre Sales Solution Architect III & Enterprise Customer Pursuit Program Manager (I wish I made that up). The Power Point punters are coming. Packaging Look & Feel meetings will be held and unboxing experiences will be discussed. There will be market research. People will jump into this market like its the worlds biggest bouncy castle.   

In the short term this will suck. The suits will get it wrong. They’ll come up with stupid terms and shiny things that don’t work. But, in the long term we will be better for it. They will drive this market forward and eventually machines will become better and cheaper. Tea, Earl Grey, Hot, will still take a long time. But, I already have cleared space for 3D printer on my desk. 

Really, I have. You can see it in the photo above. I keep a space empty on a otherwise way too cluttered desk so that I can eventually put a 3D printer there. That space has been empty for 19 months. What should & will fill it? Will that be an open source kit? a slick injection molded (oh the irony) affair? And the 11th thing that is happening right now? Many people are now wondering how many people there are out there with space on their desks for a 3D printer.

Photo Released under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Andy from Workshopshed

    Rather than having a courier deliver our material supplies, perhaps our supplied could get delivered daily in recyclable bottles? “Can I have 2 litres of white flexible to day please Mr Material Man?”

    1. Joris

      Or perhaps there could be an ice cream van but then for 3D printing supplies. You would hear a ring of a bell and you could rush out to get you some supplies.

      If we’re in the realm of awesome a re-usable material would be even better. You don’t like your plate? Spray material X on it and the plate will be broken down into sludge. You put the sludge into the printer and you can turn it into a new plate.

  2. Michael Williams

    Or we can use a particle accelerator to turn hundreds of pounds of material into weightless sub-atomic particles and zap them so you can pull them out of your TV. If something from Willy Wonka comes true before I die, I’ll die a happy man. I’ve already seen the pockets pulled out from Back to the Future III. Any ways, how would shapeways adapt to survive in a “3D printer on ever desk” age? And last but not least. If I were HP I would call it “The next era of taking others ideas, packaging it, making it in mass in China to out sell the people that actually worked there asses off to develop it, and every 2 months come out with another model so by the time your cartridge is empty you have to look in an antique store to find it” or as I like to call it the 3DJet 1250CSI (seeing I have a DeskJet and a DesignJet on my desk)

    1. Joris


      How do you think we would survive in an age where everyone has 3D printers?

    2. Michael Williams

      We have to stay 2 steps ahead of the curve. So I’ll be expecting to be able to order a 3D printed phone by the time HP releases it’s first gen printer :-P . I think the first printers will be small scale. To “test the market”. It will be a while before you can print anything to the scale we can here. Which if they don’t make it like Wanka Vision then who wants a $5K 3D printer at home? Even if they got the price down to $1K the economy is not there to support that market. Now say it were developed something like Netflix, or I guess more like a cellphone plan. They sell it to you at a low price with a 2 year contract. Lose money on the sale, but make it back in the long run plus more with the contract. I think I’ll still wait for Wanka Vision at home, but suggest a 3D printer to my work.

    3. Jeffrey Matthias

      This whole thing can only serve to boost business for companies like Shapeways. Any PR for the industry does the same thing. I think that HP entering the market could certainly put more 3D printers on desktops, but it will be a LONG time before the machines for home are able to print anywhere near the quality or level of detail that Shapeways has already available. I myself will have a Makerbot soon, but it will be for quick/cheap prototyping and for specifically pushing how to design around the resolution limitations. But if I need to hand someone a good looking model without exceptions? I’ll be farming the work out to Shapeways. I have closer places, here in the US, but the prices are WAY higher.

      HP will only help grow a market segment who is very familiar with 3D printing, capable of designing their own products, and will want higher quality models than the printer that they can afford produce.

      Sorry to be so long-winded.

    4. Joris Peels


      I don’t know if you noticed but most of these posts are written by me and hence longwinded, welcome to Shapeways: 3D printing community & the anti-twitter.

    5. Jeffrey Matthias

      That’s funny. My first tweet this morning was:

      “I can’t fit my thoughts into 140 characters this morning.”

      I wanted to say something about how amazed I am that, in my world at least, there is news (HP + Stratasys) that is actually overshadowing the impending Apple product. I couldn’t make it fit, but didn’t feel like writing a whole blog post (sorry to my 4 readers) so I decided to yap here. Anyhow, thanks for the Welcome. I’ve posted before in the forums, but it seems that I ought to get better about following the blog.


    6. Joris Peels

      Jeffrey & Mike,

      Your comments correspond to my own thinking. In the morning I will write a blog post illustrating why the 3D printing business is a lot like the pizza business.

    7. Jeffrey Matthias

      I am actually starting to work on putting together a Fab Lab in Denver. I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, but the idea is to have a community accessible lab full of computer controlled fabrication devices (shopbot, stratasys printer, laser cutters, etc.). People keep asking me if I’m shooting myself in the foot since I’m pushing my career in the direction of designing for computer aided rapid fabrication (yeah, CARF, you read it here first). My response is always that in fact, something like a Fab Lab can only increase awareness of those technologies. As long as I choose not to sit on my hands, but continue to develop my skills, demand for custom work will only increase. Right now, most people don’t even realize it’s possible. A Fab Lab (or HP printers) only leads to improved awareness. I’m assuming this is what you mean by the pizza business model.

      Ok, I think I have to go write a proper post on my blog now.

    8. Joris Peels

      FabLabs are really cool and we know a number of people that are working on them in the Netherlands. The business people in us want all the FabLabs to 3D print with us because it would be cheaper but I mean, like all the tools in one place, like you know that would be so awesome.

    9. Jeffrey Matthias

      I’m assuming it will take a year to two since it’s a side project to get one started here (unless I can find partners) and it will be piggybacked onto the on demand furniture business that I’m currently working on. I figure if I’m already assembling the equipment into a room, and I’m sure it won’t be running all the time, why not do something bigger with it.

      Anyhow, I wrote that blog post since I got all worked up about it. Replicator made some comments in a post that I felt I had to respond to. Here’s the link: http://jeffreymatthias.squarespace.com/blog/2010/1/21/stratasys-hp-good-news-for-jerks-like-me.html

      I’m looking forward to your pizza explanation.

  3. Al Dean

    As long as the Kev Rose they find isn’t Terry Wohlers, we’re safe ;)

    Al @ develop3d

    1. John-Scott Dixon

      Hey Al – I am fairly new to the category of 3D printing, but I have seen Terry Wohlers mentioned – and always in a positive light. Can you fill in the rest of the picture for me?

    2. Joris

      Terry is the #1 expert worldwide on 3D printing, rapid manufacturing, the whole shebang. His Wohlers Report is basically required reading and covers every nook and cranny of the business. He is also a really nice guy. It is a joke nothing more.

  4. Anonymous

    What if someone made a 3d printer that could be made from parts made by that 3d printer?

  5. Dread Knight

    Sounds like apocalypse to me;

    All those stupid people out there printing stupid things, image the new amount of garbage.

    I might just as well get some gun powder and make guns and pop-off people.

    Oh, and what’s the point going to stores to buy plates or order miniatures and toys anymore?

    Economy will be fucked up for good.

    1. Dread Knight

      Cheap deployable war factories!

    2. Jeffrey Matthias

      Dread Knight,
      I have heard mentioned by several people the concern of increased garbage due to 3D printing and I want to respond to it. Right now people have access to countless products made of plastic that were produced in an injection molding factory at a cost so low that their existence alone is damaging to the planet. I say this because our need for inexpensive things has led to objects being manufactured with the cheapest and fastest processes possible, but the cheap only comes in once you average out the cost across a whole production run. (50,000 widgets is a good rough number to expect to be able to amortize the cost of the the very expensive injection mold) To make things even cheaper, companies in the last 10-20 years have been moving their production over to countries that are legally able to externalize the cost of production onto the impact on their (our) environment and onto the health of their workers. If these factories had to follow the safety, labor and environmental laws of even the behind-the-time United States, the object would cost far more.

      So where does this leave us? It leaves us with 50,000 plastic widgets. They are all the same and therefore likely have a limited appeal to the commercial market. (Allow me this: not everyone likes the same thing) They were produced in a way that was damaging to both the environment and the workers who made them. A certain number of the widgets will be sold at full price. That’s the people that this widget appeals to. The rest of them will be sold at sale prices. What don’t sell will end up, one way or another, in a landfill. The ones that do sell will also end up in a landfill, it will just take a little longer. Why? Because the widget was DESIGNED so that the consumer would be tired of it and want something else. In North America, 1% of our purchased items stick around for more than 6 months.

      So if someone can print something that is custom to their needs, is designed to match their taste in style and can literally be produced to the exact number of demand, I don’t see how this can make things worse. I’m sure that the novelty of the process will encourage people to print things that they don’t need, but even if HP has a major effect on things, it’s not going to make any of this dirt cheap. Eventually, people will print things as they need them. And even if they end up changing their minds on that item? At least there didn’t have to be another 49,999 widgets to justify building it.

      As far as your 2nd point: The items produced can’t make a gun. What’s to stop someone with a mill from machining themselves a gun and killing people?

      3rd: The economy will always survive. Stores that don’t adapt won’t. Printing materials will still cost money. The companies selling those will make money and hire employees. Besides, you won’t be able to print a toy of the same quality on you desktop printer. Perhaps the toy store of the future will have high quality printers and be able to make high quality toys on demand. But really, the technology right now is pretty slow. Most people would rather just go buy something for the instant gratification.

  6. Marc M

    I think its a double edged sword, this HP entry into the 3D world.
    Whilst it’ll be great for everyone to be able to make simple everyday items like coat hooks, it’ll be bad for the amount of rubbish produced of which most will end up in landfill sites.
    A lot of users won’t design something different, they’ll stick to what they know.
    It’ll be a plain coat hook rather than one with a pattern on or their kids name or something.

    So we could end up with the following situation:
    People buying a Chinese made 3D printer to make all sorts of everyday items like coat hooks, plates, cups, photo frames etc, many of which are already made in China!
    Food for thought, isn’t it?

    About 15 years ago HP made good quality, robust inkjet printers.
    I even dropped one down the stairs once and it still worked!
    wouldn’t even accept one a a gift now! Junk is an understatement. And please don’t get me started on the ‘print one photo, have an empty cartridge’ situation with them!

    So that makes me wonder what their 3D printers will be like. I welcome their entry as it pushes the awareness of 3D printing out to the general public more and their rivals will follow suit in time. But I wouldn’t rush out to buy one just yet!

  7. Shapeways Blog

    Shapeways wants to do for 3D printing, what CSI did for petechial hemorrhaging. Luckily we are not alone, there are many companies working towards similar ends. These fellow travelers all want to in some way enable personal production and give people th

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