In the mid-1990s, a Minneapolis-based company called Stratasys introduced the first 3D printer model, co-developed with IBM. Since then, 2D designers across the world rely on 3D printers to bring their CAD (computer aided design) mockups to life. As one of the earliest pioneers in the field, Stratasys has now teamed up with HP to manufacture the HP Designjet 3D printer series, the first relatively affordable 3D printer made by a major 2D printing company.
Designing a product on paper and turning it into a physical three-dimensional plastic model relies on a patented process Stratasys calls "Fused Deposition Modeling technology," which creates the product layer by layer using thin slabs of semimolten plastic.
According to a WorldCAD Access interview with Stratsys's Technical Communications and Public Relations Manager, the machines will only available in five European countries (Spain, France, UK, Germany, and Italy) for now.
HP will start the printers at €13,000, or just under $17,500, crushing the dreams of idea farms and hobbyists hoping to find a low-cost way to produce a prototype in-house. As of today, HP's Designjet series are meant to be shared in a corporate environment, eliminating the previous routine of sending a CAD image to a machinist and waiting for a product to materialize.
More information including a product tour video and an image gallery are available on the HP Web site.