Print the Change: Towards a More Efficient and Sustainable Future

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During this period of rapid technological transformation being experienced today, there’s no force capable of helping manufacturers realize all the benefits of industry 4.0 quite like additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing technology.

From automotive, to consumer, to healthcare, and industrial – traditional manufacturing is being traded in for the disruptive qualities that are characteristic to 3D printing. The boundaries of design and innovation have officially been altered, and consumers are hungry for more.

Fortunately, recent advancements in additive manufacturing technology are making mass personalization and high volume, commercial production attainable for business both big and small.

These shifts are helping brands meet the increased need for bespoke products as more consumers expect hyper-personalized experiences and interactions with brands, a new normal that is being influenced by booming e-commerce and big data.

Potential Beyond Prototyping

While applications of 3D printing have rapidly increased over the past few years, the technology has yet to fully scale beyond prototyping needs, with about 85% of additive manufacturing applications focused on prototyping and small-scale production.

Under the lid of the HP Jet Fusion 5200 Series Printer built specifically to enable high volume production

In recognizing these barriers to fully scaled additive manufacturing it becomes clear where 3D printing thrives over traditional manufacturing methods, underscoring the solves required to scale AM. This includes enabling widespread adoption by knowledge spreading, lowering total cost of ownership by providing consistent, reliable results, and, most importantly, demonstrating an ability to act as a holistically sustainable manufacturing alternative for large-scale production.

At HP, we don’t just believe it – we live it. We also help those in our ecosystem to do the same. Our rich history is proof of what an organization-wide commitment to bettering the manufacturing industry via sustainable means looks like in practice over the many years we’ve been doing business.

3D Printing for Good

As a long-time advocate and early adopter of breakthrough technologies, HP has invested in building and democratizing access to 3D printing solutions, putting the technology to use in cutting edge ways while driving sustainable impact across industries.

Take HP’s recent collaborations in the footwear space as a prime example. Together with HP and Lonati, Decathlon developed a highly customizable shoe that encapsulates sustainable manufacturing. Using 3D printing and a glue-free assembly method, the shoe can be easily repaired, recycled, and locally produced, minimizing waste and energy consumption during the product’s lifecycle.

HP is committed to eliminating hard-to-recycle expanded plastic foam from its product packaging by shipping products in molded fiber packaging, like this molded fiber packaging designed for HP’s Desktop Mini.

Similarly, HP is providing patients with custom orthoses in minutes with the Arize Orthotic Solution, made possible with HP Multi Jet Fusion technology. Thanks to additive manufacturing and its ability to make on-demand, patient specific solutions, precise and consistent care is delivered almost instantly while reducing carbon emissions and waste tied to production.

These applications demonstrate the true power of 3D printing as it relates to sustainability, simultaneously improving user outcomes while opening the door to an overall greener approach to design and manufacturing.

Taking it one step further, HP’s Personalization and 3D Printing business introduced three new core areas of focus late last year that incorporate our solutions, capabilities, and materials to help advance more sustainable manufacturing for our customers:

  • Reducing carbon footprint;
  • Enabling circularity;
  • And sharing knowledge for more impactful results.

Together with our partners, we are leaning into high-reusability materials like PA-12 to reduce net zero waste, offering take-back programs and new tools to calculate carbon footprints, as well as continuously sharing our technical know-how and expertise to help our customers create entirely new sustainable designs previously unachievable via traditional manufacturing methods.

The Future is Additive

Francois Minec, Global Head of 3D Polymers, HP Personalization and 3D Printing. Photo: Vicens Gimenez / HP

Collaboration within the 3D printing industry is what strengthens us all in the face of a climate crisis, impending economic recession, fractured global supply chain, and ongoing volatility. It is time to look at these global insecurities as an opportunity to replace our antiquated manufacturing mindset with one that is more adaptable and flexible in nature, enabled by 3D printing.

Localized, on-demand production, improved yield rates and product quality, minimized waste, and maximized efficiency – there is already so much to accomplish at scale with 3D printing.

Yet, AI, data analytics, and automation promise to further improve scalability and output while expanding opportunities for breakthrough applications to be brought to market. From material development and product design, right through to production, sustainability will be infused at every point of the value chain as 3D printing integrates alongside other high-performance technologies in more efficient and productive factory configurations.

Interested in learning more? Please join my colleague, Ramon Pastor, Global Head of 3D Metals, HP Personalization & 3D Printing, at Additive Manufacturing Strategies from February 6-8 in New York City where he will be speaking about the next frontier in 3D printing for a more efficient and sustainable future. Although I am unfortunately no longer able to attend the conference, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the organizers for creating a high-quality forum where such valuable insights and content can be shared with the broader AM community!

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