Meg Whitman wants to go 3D

The maker of jolly expensive printer ink, HP, has plans to enter the commercial 3D-printing market in June.

Chief Executive Meg Whitman said the company had solved the technical problems that have hindered broader adoption of the high-tech manufacturing process.

She told shareholders the company will make a “big technology announcement” that month around how it will approach a market that has excited the imagination of investors and consumers.

Analysts have been muted in their interest in 3D printing which they think is over-hyped and still too immature for widespread consumer adoption.

But many wondered why HP, the largest of several printer-making companies from Canon to Xerox, had not got into the business.

Whitman said HP’s inhouse researchers have resolved limitations involved with the quality of substrates used in the process, which affects the durability of finished products.

She thinks that the bigger market is going to be in the enterprise space, manufacturing parts and prototypes in ways that were not possible before.

HP executives have estimated that worldwide sales of 3D printers and related software and services will grow to almost $11 billion by 2021 from a mere $2.2 billion in 2012.