Biz Break: Hewlett-Packard jumps into 3D printing, computing with Sprout system

Posted:   10/29/2014 03:16:58 PM PDT

Updated:   10/29/2014 04:55:49 PM PDT


Today: Hewlett-Packard shows off a 3D printer and workstation meant to bring physical objects into a the digital realm. Also: Facebook plunges after it says expenses will rise.

The Lead: HP shows off Sprout workstation, 3D printing ambitions

Hewlett-Packard announced its long-awaited leap into three-dimensional printing with a surprise twist Wednesday, showing off a new workstation built for the express purpose of easily turning physical objects into digital files that can work with its 3D printer.

Hewlett-Packard’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer will be tested by the Palo Alto company’s partners and is expected to be released with wider

Hewlett-Packard’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer will be tested by the Palo Alto company’s partners and is expected to be released with wider availability in 2016. (HP)

The Sprout system, which HP debuted at an event in New York on Wednesday, uses a complicated combination of a responsive mat connected to a monitor, projector, scanner, depth sensor and camera to create a Windows 8 workstation specifically designed to scan and recreate objects.

“Until now, the physical and digital worlds have largely been separated and digital creation has remained in 2D,” HP executive Ron Coughlin said in a news release. “With Sprout by HP, we introduce the first immersive computing platform, seamlessly merging these two worlds together, enabling people to intuitively bring their creations, work, and projects to life in 3D.”


Once objects have been scanned, they can be manipulated and eventually recreated through HP’s 3D printer, which uses different technology from the offerings currently on the market, which the Palo Alto tech giant said will allow users to print 3D objects 10 times faster at lower costs. The printer uses HP’s thermal inkjet technology to build objects layer by layer at


html”>a resolution twice that offered by 3D printing companies Stratasys and 3D Systems, Bloomberg News reported.

HP is describing the combination of Sprout and its Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer as a “Blended Reality ecosystem,” which will be supported by a marketplace of software built specifically for the Sprout system and a partnership program that will help further develop the company’s 3D printing ambitions.

“We are on the cusp of a transformative era in computing and printing,” said Dion Weisler, who will be CEO of the printing and personal-computing company that will be created when Hewlett-Packard splits in two. “Our ability to deliver Blended Reality technologies will reduce the barriers between the digital and physical worlds, enabling us to express ourselves at the speed of thought — without filters, without limitations.”

HP has long been expected to make a move into 3D printing, as its legacy printer business continues to generate strong revenues but is likely to decline as documents are increasingly shared electronically. It will be some time before HP is able to show financial results from its new offerings, however: While the Sprout workstation will be available starting Nov. 9 for $1,899, the 3D printer will only be available to HP’s partners as the company refines the technology, with 2016 as a target date for wider availability.

“3D printing won’t be material to HP’s financials for some time,” UBS analyst Steve Milunovich wrote in a note, which also stated, “HP’s technology appears geared to commercial rather than consumer applications.”

While a financial impact could be years away, Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group believes the Sprout system will restore some needed tech credibility to HP.

“This could be their equivalent of the iPad,” Enderle told SFGate’s Wendy Lee. “This is something that could put HP printing back on the map. It could take it away from a legacy, dying division to one that is high growth again.”

HP shares dropped 0.5 percent to $35.38.

SV150 market report: Stocks slip amid Facebook post-earnings plunge

Wall Street suffered slight declines Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announced the end of its monthly bond purchases meant to stimulate the economy, and Silicon Valley stocks slipped more as Facebook suffered a day after its earnings report.

Facebook showed that it can still continue to grow at a high rate even while dragging in more than $3 billion a quarter, but the Menlo Park social network concerned analysts and investors by saying late in Tuesday’s conference call that it will greatly expand spending in the coming months. Chief Financial Officer David Wehner disclosed that expenses would shoot higher in the current quarter and 2015 thanks to a larger workforce and higher stock-compensation costs, and shares immediately declined in after-hours trading, a trend that held up in Wednesday’s trading session, when Facebook fell 6.1 percent to $75.86. “Facebook uttered the two words that have, in the past, sent Internet stocks spiraling downward — ‘investment year’,” Topeka Capital Markets analyst Victor Anthony wrote, but he added that the move could end well. “The result of heavy investments is increased revenue generation and a strengthening of their ecosystem,” Anthony wrote, noting a similar pattern from Google.

Facebook still fared much better than InvenSense, a San Jose mobile-components manufacturer that plummeted 25.1 percent to $16.08 — easily the worst performance in the SV150 index of Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies — after its earnings were damaged by lower prices for its products. Electronic Arts enjoyed a 3.9 percent gain to $38.91 after its earnings report beat expectations, but Gilead Sciences dropped 2.4 percent to $110.72 after disappointing Wall Street with its results. Wednesday’s earnings reports got off to an early start, with San Jose solar manufacturer SunPower releasing results before the day’s trading session and falling 1.7 percent to $30.31. Twitter continued its post-earnings decline with a 3.9 percent drop to $42.08 while signing on for a deal with IBM that will allow companies to mine Twitter’s social data to help make business decisions. Apple gained 0.6 percent to $107.34 as a potential competitor in the mobile-payments space suffered an embarrassing breach, and The Wall Street Journal reported the Cupertino company is looking to sell iPhones in Iran.

Up: EA, AMD, Juniper, Applied Materials, Apple, Intel

Down: Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, LinkedIn, Workday, Pandora, Gilead, Zynga, Netflix, GoPro, Tesla, VMware

The SV150 index of Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies: Down 10.05, or 0.62 percent, to 1,610.45

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Down 15.07, or 0.33 percent, to 4,549.23

The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 31.44, or 0.18 percent, to 16,974.31

And the widely watched Standard & Poor’s 500 index: Down 2.75, or 0.14 percent, to 1,982.3

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