HP has become a top-five 3D print player a year after entering the market, according to fresh market data.
The vendor, which burst onto the industrial 3D print scene last Autumn with its Jet Fusion line up, sold $13.5m of industrial 3D printer hardware in the second quarter of 2017, figures from analyst Context claim.
The ability of IT resellers to make a splash in 3D print is tied partly to the fortunes of their traditional allies in their sector.
HP bit out a four per cent share of the industrial segment of the market in Q2, behind names that will be less familiar to the channel, namely market leader Stratasys, EOS, GE Additive and 3D Systems. HP began "pushing strongly" into the channel in the first half of the year, "setting itself up for further growth later this year and beyond", Context noted.
Meg Whitman made clear HP's bold ambitions in 3D print in 2013 when she announced the 2D printing leader would enter the market off its own steam. It previously partnered with Stratasys.
However, nearly two years elapsed before HP fleshed out these plans and unveiled the Jet Fusion kit.
The industrial sub-segment Jet Fusion plays in has experienced mixed fortunes since then, with unit shipments declining in both 2015 and 2016.
However, Context forecasts that the industrial sector will return to growth in 2017, partly thanks to the fresh blood that has entered the market.
Polymer machines continued to dominate the market in Q2, accounting for 90 per cent of the unit volume sales and 61 per cent of the printer revenues, Context said.
While HP's machines are initially focused on polymers, GE Additive - which is another new entrant to the top five - focuses on metal 3D printing.
"We saw a four per cent decline in the number of industrial/professional 3D printers shipped in the second quarter of this year compared to the previous year, but the average selling price of these machines continued to climb," said Chris Connery, vice president of global analysis at Context. "It now seems that both these trends will change in the second half of 2017. Average selling prices are set to drop with the shipment of new category of lower priced metal-printing machines helping to promote new growth.
"For polymer 3D printing, growth is expected from select technologies as this side of the market continues to penetrate into the manufacturing market and away from just prototyping."
Via a new pact with Deloitte, HP is aiming to help polymer additive manufacturing systems move from being mainly used for prototyping into mainstream manufacturing, Context noted.
Howard Hall, group managing director at HP partner DTP told CRN: "We have been working with HP for a number of years on the periphery of their 3D print strategy, and believe 2018 is going be a transformational one for HP in this sector as it launches a number of new materials that will open doors into other vertical use cases, and expands its 3D Print device range.
"But for a traditional MPS reseller to successfully move into 3D print it will take a lot of investment and focus, as you really need to build a separate 3D practice, which will not offer immediate returns. But we can counter that with the fact that the opportunity in the medium to long term is going to be massive."
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