Hewlett-Packard Co., the $56 billion 2D printing giant, has made no secret of their intention to enter the 3D printing market, but the question for the tech stalwarts is how best to make the leap.
During an interview with an Australian newspaper back in December, Seiko Epson President Minoru Usui said his company was developing 3D printers for commercial applications, and Hewlett-Packard CEO, Meg Whitman, called 3D printing technology a natural extension for her company and the technology which drives HP's traditional ink printing machines.
The question now becomes one of efficacy. Would HP prefer to build their own 3D printers from the ground up, or does it make sense to leverage the markets and knowledge of a company already firmly entrenched in the 3D printing ecosphere like Stratasys?
Holden Lewis, an analyst at BB&T, told Bloomberg that he thinks an acquisition makes more sense for HP. He called Stratasys an "appealing little nugget to sort of fast-forward that process."
A spokesman for Stratasys, of course, declined to comment on the rumors.
Based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and Rehovot, Israel, Stratasys is in firm control of a large share of a market which is expected to generated as much as $2.9 billion in worldwide revenue in the near term. Wohlers Associates, the go-to source for 3D printing market information, says global sales of all 3D printing products and services could well double to about $6 billion by 2017 and then nearly double again to $11 billion by 2021. The firm also expects Stratasys to generate nearly $1 billion in revenue by 2016.
Hewlett-Packard and Seiko Epson may decide it makes more sense to buy their way into the industry via a Stratasys deal than to start from scratch.
At this point, none of the prospective players in such a deal are willing to publicly discuss the idea, and it's not unlikely that Stratasys would choose to maintain their independence given their success in making acquisitions of their own like the purchase of MakerBot.