KOH KONG MENG
Senior Member, SCS
Managing Director and General Manager for South East Asia and Korea, HP Inc
“While 3D printing cannot solve all of our problems, it definitely has the ability to make the world a better place by improving lives and making it more sustainable – we just need to give it time to grow, mature and deliver on all these promises.”
Is 3D printing a hype?
There have always been many in ated claims about what new technology can do, but if you take a longer view of it, you will realise that most of them have been ful lled over time. Take the dot-com boom in the 2000s. It went bust because of unful lled expectations about the Internet, but those expectations have since been met and even surpassed. With 3D printing, the same concept applies. It’s all about giving time for the expectations around 3D printing to bear fruit.
Where do we stand in terms of 3D printing technology now?
Good progress has been made in the recent years where 3D printing is concerned. However, there are still important challenges which need addressing before 3D printing can truly realise its full potential. One of it is the speed of production. Currently, 3D printing is mainly used for low volume, high-end products such as prototyping, or parts for the aerospace industry because 3D printers today are not able to produce high quality end-user parts at an acceptable speed. HP is addressing this today with 3D printers that print up to 10 times faster than the industry average at half the cost. We’re also looking into ways to improve the speed of printing in the future.
Given these challenges, why is everyone still so excited about 3D printing?
Primarily because once these challenges are resolved, 3D printing has the potential to drive down costs and increase usability in ways unimaginable with traditional modes of manufacturing. Compared to traditional manufacturing that uses a reductive process, 3D printing employs an additive process which allows for low volume customisation and production without compromising on tensile strength. In addition, 3D printing has the advantage of being able to print complex designs with minimum wastage.