When potential customers come to ThreeD Materials in search of new 3d printers, we often point out that some printers work with a variety of filament and material types and others require that they stick with the manufacturer's brand.
That's at the desktop level.
At the industrial level, HP announced just this week that it's Multi-Jet Fusion 3d printer will use a variety of material types made by multiple brands, and will not be restricted to materials that HP itself sells.
"These will be open suppliers, they will set the branding and the price once they have been certified," Tim Weber, global head of 3d materials at HP said.
Chemical giant BASF is one of four companies that are already working on materials options for HP's 3d printer, which the company hopes will make it a leader in 21st century digital manufacturing.
"In the last 150 years, mankind has built a $12 trillion economy on the simple model of analogue manufacturing," HP CTO Shane Wall said. "Digital manufacturing is going to turn that model on its head in the next 30 years, and we're starting out on that road now."
The speed of HP's 3d printer and the material types that it will use should allow users to do small and medium batch production runs of their products, along with prototypes of new ideas.
"Home printing might eventually get there, but more realistically it'll take a while," Weber says. "Instead you'll see 3D print shops, like Kinkos for 2D today, to do the printing for you."