In the following video, 3D printing specialist Steve Heller interviews Conor MacCormack, CEO of Mcor Technologies, an Ireland-based 3D printing company that utilizes ordinary copy paper for its printer's primary material. Mcor's 3D printers have a significantly lower operating cost, between five and 20 times cheaper than the competition's, not to mention superior color-matching capability -- thanks to the company's reliance on inkjet technology to produce full-color objects 3D-printed using ordinary copy paper.
During the segment, the pair discuss Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE:HPQ) upcoming plans to enter the 3D printing space with a homegrown technology it's calling Multi Jet Fusion, the surrounding implications for the industry, and any challenges the tech giant may face in terms of color matching.
A full transcript follows the video.
Steve Heller: You're [Mcor is] one of the leading providers of true full-color 3D printing solutions. Hewlett-Packard, also a pretty good leader in --
Conor MacCormack: I think I've heard of them!
Heller: You've heard of them, right? Yes!
They're a pretty good leader in color, obviously been doing it for decades at this point, their expertise at manipulating droplets, inkjet technology, [HP's 3D printing technology] Multi Jet Fusion is around the corner.
We don't know where the color scheme is going to be falling there with them initially, but we do know that there's probably going to be more pressure and more demand from customers and from industry players pushing toward fuller color.
I was wondering if you could give your comments on the landscape at this point around Multi Jet Fusion, HP's technology, and what you really think that this means for the industry.
MacCormack: I do think it's [the landscape is] definitely going to change if people get access to 3D printed objects.
If people want to use a [3D printing] bureau service to get a particular thing in the future -- if it's 2016 or whenever the machine is available, or whatever it's going to be a few years down the line, I think it is going to change how people get access to some [3D printed] content.
But the fundamental components of how their machine works, it's a powder-based technology. It uses a plastic that they bind together, so they've come up with some sort of a solution that enables the plastic resin or the powder to bind together very, very strongly. We've seen some of the videos [of strength being demonstrated].
There's no reason to suspect that they wouldn't be able to print in full color, because the printing-head ink -- or some sort of a colored component, the binder that sticks the pieces together -- but their technology, while I haven't seen it up close, seems similar to the old ZPrint technology that put down a layer of powder, so they do a recoat layer just like the ZPrinter -- [which is] now [owned by] 3D Systems -- used to do. Then they apply the binder, and HP applies a binder that actually adheres the plastic together.
Because of that, because they're putting down the color on one side, that has been one of the challenges for the 3D Systems color; if you want to get color on the side of a layer, you have to oversaturate on the top, and when your ink CM&Y [cyan, magenta, and yellow] colors mix, they're not pure colors. You get a kind of a green or a brown, so you don't get very good color matching.
What you have to do is keep on adjusting the digital file. You print one print, you look at it, you say, "That's not the right color. It looks a bit green or yellow," and you oversaturate your digital file so that your actual, physical output looks something closer.
We believe that they will have the same color challenges that the other powder technology has. Because we print ink onto paper, which is what it was designed to do, and we print in duplex [both sides of the paper] so we don't need to put the ink all the way through the layer -- we print ink on both sides -- we can get very high color resolution, both sides of the layer.
We feel that our color is going to be superior, and our running costs are going to be still a fraction of the cost [of HP's]. HP, we all know -- people keep on talking about the HP model -- everybody knows the 2D printer model. There's no reason to suspect it's going to be any different when it goes to a 3D model.
The cost per print, we believe because it's paper we're going to win that hands down. We think it's good for the market actually, that HP's come in, because it's validating color. It's a big player coming in and they're talking about getting into 3D printing in the first place, and then the fact that they're able to do color.
For us, it's a good thing. I don't know, if we were a plastic [3D] printer I might not be as happy about it, but I think for Mcor it just validates the color and it actually strengthens our position as being very differentiated.
Steve Heller owns shares of 3D Systems. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of 3D Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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