Hewlett-Packard is at last placing its bet on 3D printing, after tinkering in the lab for years. Although HP is targeting an already crowded market, its inkjet technology appears so revolutionary to analyst Terry Wohlers that he believes “it could even put some other companies out of business.”
The potential for 3D printing has factory bosses worldwide intrigued, because it rapidly fuses together layer after layer of plastics (or other materials), until a complete object is fashioned. Pioneers such as Stratasys and 3D Systems have improved on this technique, changing it from something that seemed science fiction into a mainstream manufacturing technique that is nothing but science fact. In the auto and aviation industries, additive manufacturing (as 3D printing is also known) helps to create prototypes of many kinds of parts. In dentistry and jewellery, 3D printing is part of everyday production, especially for complex, bespoke items.