HP reschedules plans to outline 3D-printing foray to October

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Hewlett-Packard Co plans to outline its entry into the 3D-printing business by October, as the computing company seeks to extend its dominance of traditional printers into a fledgling but fast-growing market.

Chief Executive Meg Whitman said last week HP would make an announcement in June, now that the company has solved a number of technical problems that have hindered broader adoption of the high-tech manufacturing process.

But in a blogpost updated over the weekend, HP said she had “inadvertently” mis-spoken and that the company was planning instead on making its 3D-printing announcement by the end of the fiscal year, which ends in October.

Whenever it happens, HP’s foray could give added momentum to a nascent industry dominated by smaller players like Stratasys unit Makerbot, and help counter criticism that the sci-fi-like technology is over-hyped and still too immature for widespread consumer adoption.

Whitman said last week HP will focus on 3D-printing for enterprises, rather than the consumer market. Critics have accused the sci-fi-like technology of being over-hyped and still too immature for widespread consumer adoption.

Industry observers have long expected HP, the largest of several printer-making companies from Canon to Xerox , to eventually get into the business. Whitman said HP’s inhouse researchers have resolved limitations involved with the quality of substrates used in the process, which affects the durability of finished products.

“We actually think we’ve solved these problems,” Whitman had told an annual shareholders meeting. “The bigger market is going to be in the enterprise space,” manufacturing parts and prototypes in ways that were not possible before.

© Thomson Reuters 2014

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