As you can tell from this blogpost’s title... sometimes you need to be a little provocative.
But before we go into addressing this question, let’s first take a look at today’s 3D printing market and the main applications.
3D printing technologies have been around for over 30 years. It is only recently, however, with 3D concepts becoming more mainstream, that it has really captured the imagination of media and consumers. With leadership positions in a number of traditional vertical print markets – one may ask “Where does HP see the opportunity in 3D printing?”
In the industrial/commercial world, 3D printing – also known as Additive Manufacturing – offers a number of significant benefits versus traditional manufacturing processes:
Creating complex geometric forms
Elimination of almost all fixturing, operation and setup time
Reduced waste as objects are built, rather than cut away from the material
Producing “production runs of one” efficiently, without tooling
Now, let’s look at two of the main industrial/commercial applications enabled with 3D Printing:
Prototyping was the first application in this market. Today, 3D printing is becoming mainstream in product development, as a tool to prototype new designs, with companies incorporating 3D printers in-house or getting prototype parts through service bureaus. The use of 3D printing shortens design cycles and enables more disruptive and effective designs.
3D printing for prototypes continues to grow with main drivers being:
Pressure on companies to reduce design cycle lead-times in order to compete
More innovative designs
Final parts production
Despite there being a lot of use cases of final parts production using AM processes, today it still represents a small portion of the market, but a significant growth opportunity, with the main growth drivers being:
A need to differentiate by offering valued, customized, unique products
Taking advantage of more complex geometries – light weighting, optimizations, etc.
A drive to find cost-efficiencies, and ways to reduce waste and inventory
In order to drive that growth in both of the above, the 3D printing industry needs to focus enable:
Higher productivity printers that deliver a predictable output (i.e. closed loop quality control on single part runs)
Integrated design-to-print workflow
Lower materials cost and increased materials versatility
In light of these growth opportunities, HP started analyzing the 3D printing market some years ago – looking at existing technologies and working to understand what it would take to increase adoption of 3D printing. We came to the realization that technology disruption was needed to drive transformation. We also established that a collaborative approach with software and materials specialists will be key to advancing the state-of-the-art of the industry as a whole.
We then undertook a grass-roots organic investigation and looked at a variety of disruptive technologies before focusing on the feasibility of HP Multi Jet Fusion™ technology attaining breakthrough part quality at breakthrough speed and economics.
Once technology feasibility was proven we started development of the first products with the HP Multi Jet Fusion™ technology platform, announcing the technology in October 2014 in order to kick-off our Open Engagement partnering program for software and materials, and start an agile Hardware development cycle on our first 3D printing platforms.
We look forward to introducing the world to the limitless potential of 3D printing with our first platform powered by HP Multi Jet Fusion™ technology towards the end of 2016.
Let us know your thoughts and stay tuned to this blog for the latest developments!