|3D printing may sharply alter production mode, says HP executive|
Sammi Huang, Taipei; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES [Wednesday 5 July 2017]
Extensive application of 3D printing technologies is very likely to trigger a drastic change in the manufacturing sector in the foreseeable future, with customized production of personalized products to emerge as a new mode beyond mass production of uniform products. This may make the entry threshold into manufacturing operations almost disappear, allowing anyone to become a manufacturer, according to Ramon Pastor, vice president and general manager of HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing solutions business.
This is a future world HP is actively pursuing with the application of its newly developed Multi Jet Fusion 3D Solutions, said Pastor in an interview by Digitimes, despite the fact that in its first stage of application, 3D printing can only help to make production become more efficient in the Internet era when product design, production and consuming are carried out separately.
HP has set 3D printing solutions as one of the crucial engines driving its business growth, incorporating a vision of eventually reshaping the US$12 trillion manufacturing sector into a fully digitalized one, though it's a long journey to take, according to Pastor.
Global 3D market scale estimated at US$18 billion in 2021
The global 3D market scale, now estimated at US$6 billion, will be expanding at a sharp annual pace of 30% to reach US$18 billion by the end of 2021, Pastor said, adding that the majority of 3D printing business opportunities are mainly seen in the plastics industry. In this regard, HP is expected to command a high market share, at 75%, with its jet fusion printing technology.
Against the huge global manufacturing scale of US$12 trillion, the existing 3D market scale is really quite small. This is due partly to the current 3D printing technologies having not matured enough to achieve precision printing, and partly to the high costs required for the technologies, according to Pastor.
These two unfavorable factors have undermined 3D printing applications, but can be addressed with Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing solutions launched by HP, widely seen as a major technical breakthrough, Pastor claimed.
Versatile Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer
Since HP debuted its Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer one year ago, the new product has been well received worldwide as it can cut 3D printing cost by 50% and its printing speed is 10 times that of general 3D printers, according to Pastor.
With high-caliber parts and components, HP Multi Jet 3D printers boast high printing capacity and are totally applicable to production lines of the manufacturing sector, Pastor said.
He continued that HP has forged ties with partners in different fields, such as BMW, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Autodesk and Siemens, to jointly develop materials and commercial systems suitable for the fields, aiming to better popularize 3D printing and facilitate market expansion.
Furthermore, HP has set up an open-type materials and applications experiment platform to develop diverse printing materials in collaboration with more than 50 suppliers of printing materials, including Germany's BASF, Henkel and Evonik and France's Arkema.
Just a few months ago, Pastor said, HP debuted the industry's first set of MDK (3D Materials Development Kit) in conjunction with the launch of brand-new printing materials. This is one of the firm's key business strategies, based on the belief that 3D printing materials will determine the effect of 3D printing solutions.
HP has sustained a consistent value proposition: the availability of powerful service and support systems, which can be incorporated into the 3D printer market to help expand the firm's share of the market, Pastor noted.
3D voxel printing
He went on to highlight the firm's Jet Fusion printing technology, saying that the unique technology can conduct 3D voxel printing, helping to change the performance of materials, and boost the economy, recyclability and efficiency of printing materials to reduce overall costs involved.
As of December 2016, HP's Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers had helped customers turn out over 500,000 printing pieces within months after the new solutions were debuted.
In terms of global marketing, HP has established 3D distribution networks in North America and Europe, and is moving to partner with over 40 distributors in China and other Asian countries.
In addition, HP has operated many exhibition and experience centers around the world to allow customers to test printing applications.
Talking about HP's future development in 3D printers, Pastor said in line with the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), the company will move to change and upgrade the performance of voxel printing materials. A voxel is a 21x21x80um cube, and the performance of voxel can be changed based on whether extensibility, intensity, heat conductibility or electricity conductibility of the printing materials is needed.