Staples Technology Solutions has been working with customers in the 3D printing space for some time. The company’s Australian managing director, Karl Sice, says vendors need to overcome limitations of the technology before it really takes off.
“At this stage, our sales of 3D technology are very limited. A lot of the conversations we are having are conceptual,” he told ARN.
Sice explained that there were currently two main barriers to adoption.
“Cost is one but the other issue is that most printers will only perform a single type of 3D outcome. Normal laser or inkjet printers allow you to do a number of different applications, that’s not possible today with 3D. It’s designed for a single use and that is quite limiting.
“As vendors make the move to commoditise the market, I think it will take off in its own right. Everybody I have spoken to who is across this technology, partner or customer, is excited for it and realises its potential. The ball is now back in the vendor’s court to make it realistic and multi-purpose so that people can take advantage of it properly."
Sice recently returned from the first conference HP Inc. held since the split from HP Enterprise and spoke about some of the conversations he had with HP president imaging printing and solutions, Enrique Lores, about the future of 3D printing.
“We took the opportunity during this trip to talk about some of the markets including healthcare and education, how we can go to market as partners in those verticals and generate growth around some of the new technologies that HP is bringing to market.” he said.
“For Staples, the 3D print space is exciting because it gives us a chance to grow the business much more quickly than would ordinarily be possible. The growth in that market is only just beginning.
“Currently, the applications of the technology are single purpose, as we go forward that will evolve and we will be able to take advantage of that evolution as well.
Sice said in healthcare and education, he saw opportunity for growth.
“In healthcare there is a lot of pressure on the private aged care market not just in the for-profit organisations, but also in the organisations trying to provide solutions more quickly and deliver healthcare outcomes much more effectively.
“Even in its current form, 3D printing allows you to take solutions to the healthcare market which would be possible without the technology but would take much longer to deploy.
“3D printing allows you to do a number of things, it’s more than just prototyping, even in the pharma market which supports healthcare, it allows them to go to market much more effectively and quickly, getting them solutions outcomes more quickly.
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“There is a really good example in education, I sat down with a university and the way they were looking at 3D printing was for the design school. 3D printing would allow them to eliminate some of the plastic, clay and paper that they currently use to do prototype designs and also mainstream designs for the market. They can move to a situation where they can do in minutes what would have previously taken weeks.“The ability to go from design to product using 3D technology is a massive shift, not only killing a whole lot of process, but you can imagine the cost savings as well,” he added.