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Leading the 3D printing Industrial Revolution

Many are touting 3D printing as the next industrial revolution with a profound effect on how, where and how products are manufactured. Whether it’s the next industrial revolution or not, we have no doubt we are at the dawn of industry transformation as a result of digitization – which is something we definitely know about.


Why do we know? A great example is HP’s impact in commercial print. A lesser-known market that HP has participated in for many years, but a very important one for analogies to 3D Print. An easy definition of this market is “all printing done outside the home and the office.”


HP provides “digital printing” production solutions which simply means that the print is “data-driven” as opposed to traditional analog processes where one master is created and many copies are made. This is a market that has been evolving since the 90’s in earnest. It’s one where change both seemed to take decades, and yet it is hitting tipping points overnight.


The benefits of digital printing should sound familiar:

  • The cost of making one or many are essentially the same
  • Each product can be completely customized and personalized
  • Can be used to reduce risk in supply and demand matching
  • Can dramatically reduce the amount of waste in production and supply chains

Fast forward to 2015 and there is no doubt that the print industry is going digital. In just one of HP’s digital printing product lines, more than 130 billion A4 pages have been produced since the products were launched in 2009.


A good part of that transformation was – and still is – due to HP’s cutting edge technologies and industry leading product engineering, service and support. Together, with participation in important industry organizations, the digital print market prospered for HP and the entire industry - partners and competitors alike.


At the root, digitized production enables to primary benefits:

  1. Value Capture: It allows for better business responsiveness and reduction of waste and inefficiency
  2. Value Creation: It enables the creation of completely new product offerings that were never possible with traditional production processes

Sound familiar?


Over decades of operating in digital production print markets, we’ve learned that it all comes down to a few fundamental things:

  • Fundamental trends – underlying the current market dynamics is a massive wave of digitization; in the 80’s it was the advent of the PC and in the 2000s it was about massive virtual inventories made possible by the Internet
  • Applications – Drivers of digitization are not going to come simply from faster printing – it’s the utility and uses that become possible with new levels of performance; there are numerous “killer app” examples in the 3D printing space, but we need this number to multiply dramatically
  • Standards - Taking the friction out of use and adoption by the larger market by improving interoperability of different solution elements in the value chain
  • Breakthrough products – for the print process, this means step-function improvements in price/performance ratios

We face the advent of another analog to digital transformation – and HP is right where it should be.


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