Prescription: How HP Should Reinvent 3D Printing

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Prescription: How HP Could Reinvent 3D Printing…and Itself

 here are a few thoughts for HP’s next cocktail party:

● Focus: Any good 3D printer is likely to find uses never imagined by the manufacturer. So, flexibility is key. That means letting the best technology decide which verticals to pursue. The first generation of printers will likely suit hobbyists and small businesses, not raging masses of Black Friday zombies.

● Innovate the business, not just the product:.There’s no shortage of promising technologies, but many of the most interesting innovations in 3D printing will be in creating new business models, communities, apps, and distribution methods. Consider Ponoko. Like FedEx Kinkos, Ponoko allows customers to print their designs through networked printers anywhere in the world. No more waiting for lead-encrusted Chinese “Barbeez”.

● Acquire: I’ve seen firsthand how a large company can crush the soul of whatever it acquires. HP can reduce some of that risk by focusing on technologies that fit their existing customer base and distribution channels. Buying a larger player, like Stratasys would be an uneasy fit without a strong vision for linking it to other HP services.

● Experiment: With plenty of cash, HP doesn’t have to bet the farm on any one technology. It can afford to experiment.

● Materials. The procurement and differentiation of 3D “inks” will determine if HP can be as profitable in 3D as it is in 2D. After choosing the best printing technology, HP should have its scientists evaluate which materials have the most potential for developing new IP…as long as my Barbies model cars don’t cost $2,700 to print.

How HP Could Reinvent 3D Printing…and Itself, Oct 2012

What Happened

Exactly what Steve suggested…

HP and the Future of 3D Printing 2013
A year later, HP announces a carbon copy of Steve’s strategy, as documented by Joe Barkai on his blog:

“Steve Faktor of IdeaFaktory… suggested that an acquisition of an established 3D printing company like Startasys or 3D Systems might be a good way for HP to get into the world of industrial 3D printing (I noticed that Stratasys started using the term ‘professional 3D printing.’ Is this an attempt to keep some distance from the ‘makers’ and appeal more to ‘builders’?).”

HP launches Metal Jet 3D printing, additive manufacturing system, Sep 2018
HP does as was suggested…

HP’s 3D printing efforts started with plastics but now are expanding to metals such as stainless steel. The big bet for HP is mass manufacturing.

Hewlett-Packard’s 3-D Printer Is Essentially a Replicator 2014

What’s Next?



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Provocative predictions & prescriptions on where innovation, economics & culture will take us. Fearless. Funny.