3D Systems' (NYSE:DDD) ZPrinters are lauded for their full color and high-speed 3-D printing technology. While there's no question that the printers are an excellent fit for architectural models and prototypes, some investors wonder whether or not this material-jetting technology is the beginning of a new wave of desktop consumer 3-D printers. Based on comments from 3-D printer inventor David Hartkop, investors shouldn't get their hopes up.
Is material-jetting technology the foundation for a new wave of consumer printers?
It was a "historic, game-changing event" for 3D Systems. 3D Systems gained "complementary full color and high speed printing technology," said 3D Systems' CEO Abe Reichental when the company acquired Z Corp on Jan. 3 2012. He was right: The material jetting in Z Corp's ZPrinters is one of the most mature 3-D printing technologies in the market. But it has its limitations.
Thanks to material-jetting technology, ZPrinters can print in beautiful high resolution. This makes the printers often a first choice in industries that need detailed models and prototypes -- like architecture. But do they have potential as consumer printers? In an interview with David Hartkop, the creator of the world's first desktop 3-D printer for metal, I asked him about whether or not material-jetting technology could be a good fit for the next generation of consumer printers. Here is what he had to say.
As Hartkop explains, there are advantages to the material-jetting technology used in ZPrinters, but when it comes to physical products to use in the home, the technology doesn't look ready.