HP Inc and consultancy firm Deloitte have announced a new additive partnership that will aim to accelerate the adoption of 3D printing technology into mainstream manufacturing.
Announced at a launch event at HP’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, the new alliance will focus on the integration of HP’s Jet Fusion 3D printing technology into large-scale manufacturing environments. According to the two companies, the joint-venture will help customers accelerate product design, increase production, create more flexible supply chains and optimise the manufacturing lifecycle.
“No sector of the global economy is undergoing more radical transformation than the $12 trillion manufacturing market,” said HP Inc CEO Dion Weisler.
“Nothing’s really changed much in manufacturing in almost over a hundred years, and it’s time, because there is a better mousetrap out there. There is a meaningful way to make a very good impact on the way companies all around the world design, procure, manufacture and deliver their products”
Recent years have seen 3D printing widely adopted for rapid prototyping, but true additive manufacturing has yet to see widespread mainstream implementation. Outlying cases such as GE’s 3D printed fuel nozzle are the exception rather than the rule, but HP and Deloitte claim that this is about to change, and that additive will take an increasingly larger share of the manufacturing pie.
“3D printing has been around for 20 years,” said Weisler, “but it’s never really solved the problem of speed, quality and cost. It’s never really hit the inflection point where, from a production point of view, it makes more sense to 3D print something than it does to produce it with traditional, analogue injection moulding.”
As well as cost, the companies believe there are other forces at play that will help push additive manufacturing into the mainstream.
“Globalisation, despite what the politicians are saying, is giving customers all over the world the choice and flexibility to demand things that are very customised,” said Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte. “That plays perfectly into this particular alliance.”
The exact nature of the relationship and how it will operate in practice remains to be seen. However, both CEO’s claimed that meeting customer needs with the right technology will be the key focus. As additive manufacturing becomes more competitive, they believe HP’s 3D printing solutions can play a significant role.
“The intent is not to go to market and have a hammer looking for nails,” said Renjen. “The intent is to identify and diagnose the client problem. In many situations it will require the technology capability that HP has, coupled with the transformation capability that we have. And it might require others.”
The ‘others’ Renjen referred to include SAP, Johnson & Johnson and Siemens, partners to the alliance that were all in attendance at the launch. According to Weisler, the new group is the first of its kind in additive manufacturing, and the varying expertise of the partners will be the key to its success.
“This is the whole point of the alliance,” he said. “We don’t step on each others toes here. We realise that we’ve got some incredible technology and innovation, but we need the world’s leader in transformation (Deloitte). A company that’s been doing it for 170 years, that has the brand equity and the trust.”
“They bring something to the relationship that we can’t bring. They know how companies intimately work end-to-end, and that’s exactly why we’re doing this alliance.”