Hewlett-Packard began selling its Designjet printers 3D in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and Spain in May 2010. The Designjet 3D printer is manufactured by Stratasys, but branded under HP. HP is currently testing the market for 3D printers in Europe with between five and 10 partners in each of the countries.
The five countries were chosen in part because partners there had the necessary services skill-set to help deliver the technology. The company is actively recruiting more partners within Europe. HP is not looking to get into the hobbyist or consumer market.
The Designjet 3D Printer is based on Stratasys's Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology, which turns three-dimensional CAD drawings into tangible prototypes by extruding partially molten ABS plastic in extremely fine layers one atop the other, forming the entire 3D model in a single piece from the ground up.
The basic Designjet 3D prints in ivory plastic only while Designjet Color 3D prints single-color parts in up to eight different colors.
The Designjet 3D Printer is aimed mainly at businesses and educational institutions, providing a point of entry into 3D printing for those who want to prototype in-house directly from their computers. That kind of convenience can save a lot of time and money on product development.
The Designjet 3D printer is among the most affordable rapid prototyping systems in the market for its size and capability, initially retailing for around £11,000 ($17,000).
One of the Designjet 3D printers main selling points is ease of use. A Designjet 3D printer would be a particularly attractive piece of kit for architects, engineers, product developers and other professionals who need to carry an idea through from concept to prototype. Whereas in the past they would have to make detailed drawings that are built into a prototype by a skilled and expensive machinist, before delivering it to the prospective client. Now, with the aid of a 3D printer they could produce a plastic 3-D model without leaving their desks. If the client also has a 3D printer, they could send the design electronically in an instant, to be printed on-site.