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HP Inc. Plans a Push Into 3D Printers That Create Metal Objects

October 12, 2017, 9:05 PM UTC

After pushing into 3D printing last year,HP Inc. now plans to ratchet up the effort.

HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler said Thursday that HP plans to sell 3D printers that produce metal objects, an expansion from to the company’s existing 3D printers that produce plastic-based products.

He gave few additional details in a call with reporters about the planned printers, like whether the company would sell entirely new 3D printers dedicated to metals or whether it plans to upgrade its existing 3D printers. He also did not disclose the price of the printers or when they would debut, merely saying that the company would reveal more information in 2018.

HP decided to reveal its plans to enter the 3D printing metal market in order to “signal the intent that we had a technology” so it could start discussions with potential customers that are interested in 3D printing metal objects, the CEO said. Manufacturers typically use 3D printers to produce small numbers of parts like the rubber connectors in cars that cover electrical wires.

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Other companies that sell 3D printers that create metal objects include the startups MarkForged and Desktop Metal, which received $115 million this summer from investors like GV (formerly Google (GOOG) Ventures) and GE Ventures. Milwaukee Tool, a Desktop Metal investor, uses the startup’s printers to produce small metal gears for its lineup of power tools.

HP Inc. has been pushing hard into the 3D printing industry ever since debuting its first 3D printer in 2016, but it hasn’t released any details about sales. The company is trying to grow its business beyond selling PCs and conventional printers.

HP Inc. split from its data center hardware sibling Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) in the fall of 2015 to become an independent company.

Additionally on Thursday, HP Inc. said it planned to sell a cheaper version of its existing 3D printers and that it would also expand its graphics-printing business to include the ability for companies to print graphics on textiles.