HP, Deloitte Team-up for Additive Manufacturing

HP Inc. and Deloitte are taking aim at the burgeoning additive manufacturing market. Last week the two companies announced an alliance to accelerate the adoption of HP’s 3D printers in large-scale manufacturing environments.

HP is a new entrant in the additive manufacturing space. Its flagship product, the HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200, became available in December of last year. Despite what feels like a late start, HP boasts some impressive capabilities with its Multi Jet Fusion technology that could quickly make it a leader in the plastics additive manufacturing market. Most notably, the company claims a 10X increase in print speed over comparable fused deposition modeling (FDM) and selective laser sintering (SLS) systems and half the average cost per part. Although these estimates are based on very specific criteria (part size, machine utilization, material type, etc.) they address two of the largest hurdles of additive manufacturing: cycle time and cost.

For HP, the manufacturing market is largely uncharted territory. The needs, concerns, and expectations of industrial customers will require a shift in strategy compared to HP’s typical business and consumer clientele. This is where Deloitte excels. Deloitte’s supply chain and manufacturing operations practice is a global leader in helping companies apply digital business strategy to manufacturing initiatives. By exercising its already extensive ecosystem of digital collaborators, including Dassault Systèmes, SAP, Amazon Web Services, and Siemens, Deloitte can accelerate the industry wide adoption of HP’s 3D printing technology.

This foray into the AM market and partnership with Deloitte comes at an interesting time. Stratasys and 3D Systems, the two largest competitors in plastic additive manufacturing, reported negative growth in 2016 and, as of Q2, have forecast stagnation for 2017 – not a promising indication of the current market. However, a complete look at their recent history shows significant growth, with 3D systems nearly doubling in revenue since 2012 and Stratasys tripling in the same time-frame. The trend of the past two years could indicate the slowdown of a saturated market, or it could be the calm before the next wave of growth. With advances in additive manufacturing technology, larger and larger industrial markets may become accessible. As I’ve stated in previous blogs, the growth of the AM industry is predicated on tipping points and perhaps HP’s touted print speed hits the mark.

HP Inc. is on track for its first year of top line growth since 2013. However, additive manufacturing revenue is not broken out in its financial reporting, and based on the revenue of the industry leaders, it is unlikely that HP’s new 3D printers had a significant effect on the company’s current uptrend. Despite this, I have high expectations for the newcomer, and HP will most certainly secure a spot in ARC’s upcoming Market Analysis Report on Additive Manufacturing.