Whitman: HP will enter 3D printing but not via acquisition

Hewlett-Packard(s hpq) will enter the growing 3D printer market next year and will do it organically, not by acquisition, CEO Meg Whitman told analysts on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call Tuesday night.

Whitman made the remarks, which echo statements she made last month, in answer to an analyst’s question about HP’s plans for this market. 3D printers can manufacture everything from toys to automotive parts.

Many of us have wondered why HP, which has been a power in conventional inkjet and laser printing for decades, has let this market lie fallow  — except for a past partnership with Stratasys, a 3D print pioneer. Stratasys solidified its leadership position by buying MakerBot, and its low-cost line of printers, in June for $403 million.

But HP, which has been known to buy lots and lots of companies, will go it alone in this arena which Whitman characterized as an “acorn” that could grow into a booming opportunity for the IT giant.