Sep 28, 2016 | By Benedict

HP Labs, the central research organization for printing giant HP, turned 50 this week. At a special anniversary event, several HP figures revealed the company’s plans for 3D printing, including DRM-free materials development for the Jet Fusion 3D printer, IoT connectivity, and more.

When HP released the Jet Fusion 3D printer, the company’s first additive manufacturing machine, earlier this year, many questions were asked about the printer’s “Open Platform” for materials. Promising to “expand the availability of new materials to address a broader set of applications, lower materials costs, drive performance improvements, and create new possibilities,” the Open Platform appeared to encourage third party development of non-proprietary materials for the Jet Fusion. HP even signaled that materials specialists like Evonik and Lehmann & Voss would be creating materials for the 3D printer.

Some doubt was thrown upon that project when the company recently made the contentious move of introducing Digital Rights Management (DRM) to its 2D printers through an inconspicuous software update, effectively preventing owners of HP printers from using third party cartridges. That move was lambasted by users and organizations, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has called on HP to remove DRM and restore the ability to use third party cartridges.

Speaking at HP Reinvention Week, the 50th anniversary celebrations for HP Labs, global head of 3D materials Tim Weber promised that no such restrictions would be applied to the company’s 3D printing materials—a statement that will come as a relief to developers who might have identified the release of the forthcoming 3D printer as an opportunity to create a new line of potentially lucrative materials. Weber also revealed that four other companies, including BASF, are currently working on 3D printing materials designed for the Jet Fusion, adding: “These will be open suppliers, they will set the branding and the price once they have been certified.”

HP also outlined its more general plans for the future, including its mission to crack developing markets such as India, China, and Africa, and its identification of four key technologies of the future. “HP's vision of blended reality highlights four emerging technologies: 3D transformation, Internet of All Things, hyper mobility and microfluidics,” noted Shane Wall, Chief Technology Officer at HP and global head of HP Labs.

With the Jet Fusion 3D printer, HP already has a foothold in 3D transformation, which the company sees as the foundation of the next industrial revolution. Internet of All Things, on the other hand, could include tables, chairs, and anything else that moves and can be tracked through a supply chain. Besides specific technological devices, however, Wall also highlighted four general global trends which he thinks will deeply influence technology over the next 30 years:

  1. Rapid urbanization: More than 97 per cent of the next 30 years of population growth is expected to occur in emerging markets such as China, India, and Africa.
  2. Changing demographics: Over half of the world’s population is expected to be over 50 years old by 2046.
  3. Hyperglobalization: Expanding as more people in developing nations gain access to the Internet.
  4. Accelerated innovation: Phones, tablets, and computers will make way to wearable or implanted online technology.

Wall noted how the emergence of “megacities,” cities with populations of at least 10 million, in regions outside of Australia, North America, and western Europe, will drastically affect global affairs, including technological development. “Those changes are going to affect everything about humanity…how we interact, how we manage precious resources, and how we design products,” Wall said. “And so thinking about the solutions we need to bring to bear to address those issues becomes a framing piece for what we do at HP Labs.”

Images: Computer Dealer News

In addition to the speculation about future trends and technologies, HP also showcased a range of its current products at its Reinvention Week event in Palo Alto, California. Attendees had another chance to see the HP MJF 4200 3D printer, which will ship in November, while the company also demonstrated its Sprout computing platform, HP Elite X3 Windows Phone, and a range of sleek new consumer printers.

 

 

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I.AM.Magic wrote at 9/29/2016 9:03:21 AM:

It is such an obvious move to have DRM free material as it isn't the same as jetting ink on a paper. When you print a paper with ink, you don't care at all of the type of ink you are using; therefore you have to bound your clients to you. BUT with additive manufacturing, the clients care about the material choice, there are so many polymers that the client wants HIS material. Unless they develop in house the huge selection of material they'll fail, therefore it is obvious that they have to make it open and allow other to experiment with materials that they need for their application. Other plus, marketing, bash on rivals who have not understood that.



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