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HP plans big 3D printing announcement for June

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3D printing is about to enter the mainstream, or at least get a mainstream backer. CEO Meg Whitman announced at an HP shareholder meeting on Wednesday (via PC World) that once June rolls around, the company will make its first big technology announcement in that area.

Whitman said that HP has solved two problems plaguing current 3D printers. First, Whitman said, is speed -- or rather, slowness. “It’s like watching ice melt,” she said.

The second issue is quality.

The surface of the substrate is not perfect.

“We believe we have solved both these problems and we’ll be making a big technology announcement in June around how we are going to approach this.

The wording of that statement implies that HP will announce something, but may not release anything, at least at that time.

Whitman was responding to a shareholder who asked if HP was interested in growth and, if so, the shareholder asked bluntly, “How come you don’t have any 3D printers available yet?”

HP plans to target the business market first, Whitman said. The company believes there is a demand for printers that can be used to print prototypes and finished products. Consumers, HP said, will get their first taste of HP 3D printing via a service provider, such as a retail copy outlet a la FedEx Office.

Several companies are already involved in the 3D printing market, including 3D Systems, ExOne, and Stratasys. Research firm IDC expects the number of 3D printers sold this year to increase 67 percent from 2013.

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