The past several years have been an inflection point for the industry, we’ve had many learnings and are seeing a number of trends emerge and accelerate, as the world operates in an entirely new environment. Often times of crisis can stimulate innovation and catalyze action. Interviewed on this topic by 3dpbm, Emilio Juárez, Vice President, EMEA, 3D Printing at HP expects this will continue to ring true specific to digital manufacturing.
“3D printing is now perceived as an agile technology with a competitive advantage to support a resilient supply chain, drive digital transformation and encourage sustainable practices,” Emilio Juárez explained, proving this point by exploring some of the biggest trends that are set to positively impact the industry.
The growing importance of sustainability
Businesses and consumers are increasingly demanding more sustainable products and packaging, which is having an influence on supply chain strategies. When HP surveyed global digital manufacturing and 3D printing decision-makers in late-2020, an overwhelming majority (89%) said they were changing their business models, and at least 9 out of 10 were investigating new and more sustainable supply chain models. 3D printing is providing more sustainable manufacturing methods from a sustainable design that removes excess weight and waste to local production that leads to a lower carbon footprint.
Decathlon is reaping the benefits of HP’s 3D printing technology at ADDLAB, the company’s additive manufacturing laboratory. The facility produces spare parts for Decathlon’s products, as well as other services including prototyping, design validation and the manufacturing of small tools. Since installing two HP Multi Jet Fusion printers at the ADDLAB in 2016, Decathlon can produce functional parts with complex details at scale, increase efficiency, streamline workflow processes, and target new applications. Yet, above all, the company has lowered its carbon footprint, thanks to the unmatched reusability of HP 3D materials.
L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetics company, has been working with HP to increase production flexibility, create innovative new packaging and customer experiences, and provide added agility in response to changes in consumer purchasing behaviors. L’Oréal plans to use HP’s Digital Manufacturing Network across its global supply chain to meet its sustainability goals by efficiently producing parts when and where they are needed.
A new era of mass personalization
Digital manufacturing innovation is set to disrupt a range of large industries; it will drive innovation and will create new value, particularly in industries such as health and wellness, which is currently ripe for disruption.
The highly personalized health and wellness sector is one where we see the most potential for huge growth. People are and will continue to seek better health outcomes based on individual needs. For example, orthotics and prosthetics, is a rapidly growing opportunity for additive manufacturing, particularly in relation to mass-personalization.
“We are particularly excited about the promise of additive for mass metal manufacturing too, given that it is the fastest-growing segment of the traditional 3D printing market,” Emilio Juárez clarified. “HP’s Metal Jet technology enables the production of truly unique high-value parts, replacing production from high volume runs. Auto manufacturers such as Volkswagen and sporting goods manufacturers such as Cobra Golf are increasingly using 3DP technologies such as metal binder jetting for structural components and personalized parts.”
“We are currently collaborating with the lower limb industry to upend the status quo with the new Arize end-to-end digital orthotic solution, providing efficiency and customization capabilities not possible through traditional processes,” Juárez added.
Volkswagen is using HP Metal Jet-produced parts for the A-pillar of the T-Roc Cabriolet. These structural parts have passed crash test certification and weigh almost half as much as conventional components. “In partnership with customers including Volkswagen, we’re continuing to validate production applications,” Emilio Juárez pointed out. “This trend is leading us to develop broader commercial Metal Jet availability in 2022.”
In the personalized medicine segment, Laser Modelling Israel (LMI), a pioneer of the rapid prototyping industry, has been using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology to produce intricate and lifelike 3D printed models to assist surgeons and doctors with complex surgeries.
There are several advantages to using HP Multi Jet Fusion printers for prototypes. Firstly, the printed parts are more affordable and can be produced quickly and repeatedly. Another benefit is the material of the final product, which can not only be painted in the color of skin tones, but also be sterilized, and therefore is safe enough to be placed close to operating theatres. Accuracy is also invaluable, with the in-printer quality checks helping to minimize errors and enabling easy, accurate job progress tracking. On top of this, HP’s technology allows the model to be produced in one assembly, meaning there is no need to print numerous separate parts.
In addition, customers including SmileDirectClub in the U.S. and Impress in Europe are also continuing to push the boundaries of oral care by using 3D printing to manufacture highly personalized products at scale.
3D Printing as a way to disrupt traditional supply chains
In the wake of the global pandemic, companies are starting to develop new supply chain strategies to guard against future disruption, including volatile global economic trade cycles. Advanced 3D printing solutions can help them accelerate this transformation. “We expect industries will look at 3D printing to disrupt their traditional supply chains and make them more efficient and flexible. In addition to new applications, we believe entirely new ecosystems and alliances will emerge as companies look to deliver more value to end customers,” said Mr. Juárez. “We’re already seeing this trend take hold in industries including automotive, consumer, healthcare and industrial,” he added.
For example, Nissan is using HP’s 3D printing technology to give new life to older cars. The global car manufacturer is producing 3D printed replacement parts for older Nissan models on-demand, to address the long tail of spare parts that are not sustainable to maintain with traditional manufacturing processes over a longer period.
In addition to meeting sustainability goals, L’Oréal turned to HP Multi Jet Fusion to quickly respond to shifts in its manufacturing processes and production lines. The companies worked together to quickly design and scale up large volumes of adjustable ‘pucks’ enabling L’Oreal to convey, fill products, and label them with better agility, resulting in a 33% cost reduction and 66% time savings. The ability to customize the pucks has also proven valuable throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing L’Oréal with added agility in response to changes in consumer purchasing behaviors.