Category Archives: Imaging

3D Printing as a Marketing Tool

In a modern, fast-paced world, people typically spend only a few seconds to decide whether or not they are interested in a product. Marketing executives have the difficult task of finding ways to attract the attention of potential customers. In today’s highly saturated media environment it is really hard to get noticed. So is there a magic pill? Maybe!

The general public is hungry for sensation; it is drawn to anything out of the ordinary. I hope you agree when I say that 3D printing fits this profile perfectly. Anything published on this subject is met with huge interest. At the same time, the 3D-printing community reacts at lightning speed to any new product on the market, be it a movie or a game. Here is fertile soil in which to plant promotional seeds.

Social media works perfectly for everyone,- you don’t have to be connected to 3D printing at all, and still use it to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, an unknown 3D designer or ‘maker’ can publish his or her creation on a social site and become known to a much wider audience.

The new Pokémon Go game provides a number of great examples. While it was still only available in the US, 3D-printing enthusiasts around the world created dozens of miniature Pokémons. And who wouldn’t want to hold a cute little Pokémon in their hands after catching its virtual twin?

Pikachu

Pikachu caught in the park

 

One designer came up with a 3D-printed phone cover with a targeting tool for catching Pokémons and became a mini-celebrity. Initially, his profile on myminifactory.com had about 10,000 views. When someone liked his design idea and placed a picture on Twitter, the previously unknown designer accumulated nearly 75,000 views within 2 days! By the end of that week about 180,000 people visited his page on the 3D-printing community website. For this type of niche community it is a huge success.

So has anyone thought of using 3D printing as a clever marketing tool? Doing so raises the question of who promotes whom: those in the 3D-printing community who make innovative designs can become the talk of the town, while the producer of a new product who places a 3D-printed replica on a popular social site stands to increase sales. Both sides reap the benefits.

by NF

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Filed under 3D Printing, Connectivity, Imaging, virtual reality

Channel to Print Vendors: Clearer labeling is needed!

According to the latest CONTEXT ChannelWatch, European channel players believe print manufacturers could do “a lot more” to stop counterfeit toner cartridges flooding the market.

The call to action for vendors to label their products better comes from over 2,000 business owners and senior managers at key channel businesses across Western Europe. The in-depth report is compiled from interviews with these organisations including resellers, vendors, retailers and distributors.

When asked who they thought could do the most to stop the growing problem of illegal printer consumables in the region, a clear majority (55%) claimed print vendors could do “a lot more”, although a significant minority claimed the channel (37%) and government (35%) could do the same.

When it came to government, however, a large number of respondents (30%) claimed they “don’t know” what role it should take.

The problem as the channel sees it lies in the packaging of illegal toner cartridges.

Over half (58%) of resellers told us it would be easy for them to spot counterfeits, but just 15% of them said they thought it would be simple for their customers.

Clearly labelled packaging (73%) for re-manufactured and legal compatibles was called out as the best solution to the counterfeit problem amongst other suggestions.

Some major print vendors are taking the initiative, raising public awareness, training channel partners, monitoring sales via distribution channels, and most importantly – seizing counterfeit goods and taking their manufacturers and resellers to court.

HP Inc. seized more than 12 million items and enforced over 1800 actions across EMEA between 2011 and 2015, while Kyocera seized €10m worth of counterfeit goods in FY 2015. But between just April and May this year Kyocera reported the capture of goods worth over €5m – an indication of the escalating scale of the problem.

Some vendors have also responded with secure holographic seals, serial numbers and other innovative features to help distinguish genuine from counterfeit products.

The new ChannelWatch report from CONTEXT covers this and other key channel trends in detail, shining an important light on what resellers from the UK, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and Italy really think. To request a copy of the report or to speak to someone, please contact tgibbons@contextworld.com.

by TG

 

 

 

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HP’s first 3D Printers are Evolutionary but their entrance into the market is Revolutionary

Earlier today, on the 17th May at the RAPID 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing conference in Orlando Florida, HP Inc announced the first products to use the company’s new Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing technology, previously announced in 2014. The first two products, set for delivery later this year, are the Jet Fusion 3D 3200 and the Jet Fusion 4200 and allow for an open platform of print materials with initial focus on Nylon. Prices will start from $130,000. As planned all along, HP’s entrance into the 3D Printing industry will be on the Industrial/Professional side as opposed to Desktop/Personal side of the market, leveraging value-added resellers capable of sales and services of these machines into defined vertical market segments.

The technology offers some great evolutionary steps in terms of speed, ability to control materials at a voxel level (a voxel is the 3D equivalent of a pixel in 2D printing or in displays) and the ability to eventually use a multitude of different materials. While HP states that its technology is uniquely different, many engineers have noted it to be most like existing Powder Bed Fusion 3D Printers. HP’s Jet Fusion printers indeed are powder based and the material is eventually fused together (instead of being “glued” together) but HP’s technology is unique. Whether or not the technology is revolutionary is too early to tell, however. As the Jet Fusion printers make it to market, and as service bureaus and manufactures alike begin to actually use the Multi-Jet Fusion technology for finished good part production, only then will it be determined how revolutionary the technology is.

What is revolutionary is that a household name like HP has now entered full-force into the 3D printing market with clear intentions not just to dominate each sector in which it participates, but to open up new markets. HP is already talking about future Jet Fusion 3D Printers which will allow for color, offer the ability to print in ceramics and even print embedded electronics.

HP is entering a market still largely centered around the production of prototype parts. The move into finished good production has been mostly by way of the growing Metal 3D Printing sector, with machines finding their way on to shop floors more and more each day as companies such as GE and Boeing use Metal 3D Printers to make finished good parts. Metal 3D Printers sit at the very high end of the market with price points ranging from $500K-$2M+. Although HP will not initially play in the metal side of 3D Printing, the company is keen to point out that its new printer line can offer final part performance in a variety of other materials.

by CC

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Spotlight on 3D Printing

The Global 3D Printer market saw great changes last year with some high profile companies in the additive manufacturing market scaling back their expectations for the newer, desktop side of the market.

Over the course of 2015, the total market saw a growth of +30% in terms of total printers shipped marked by a +33% year-on-year growth for Desktop/Personal printers but -9% fewer Industrial/Professional 3D Printers.

In the Desktop/Personal 3D Printer sector, Taiwanese vendor XYZprinting remained the global leader in Q4’15, extending its share to 31% for the period and 21% for the full calendar year. The 2nd half of the year witnessed the de-emphasis of the sale of Desktop 3D Printers to consumers by former market leaders Stratasys/MakerBot and 3D Systems/Cubify, a mantle picked up by others including XYZprinting and M3D. The period also witnessed the largest crowdsourced effort to date for 3D Printers with the pre-sale of over 16,000 units of the $179 Tiko 3D printer, expected to arrive during 2016.

The Industrial/Professional portion of the 3D Printing market struggled as anticipated in Q4’15. This Industrial/Professional side sector continues to be characterised by a wide range of technologies and price points, catering to a number of vertical markets with no one technology offering a silver bullet for all applications.

Since the 3D Printer industry consists of a wide range of prices for the various types of 3D Printing technologies, the market is often benchmarked not only on units, but also on revenue from the sale of printers. Doing so helps to show the growing importance of Metal 3D Printing overall with 2015 seeing three of the top five vendors all mostly concentrating on metal additive manufacturing (EOS, SLM Solutions and Arcam).

Looking into the future, we are forecasting the total global market for 3D Printing including not only printer Hardware, but also Materials and Services to grow from $4.1B in 2015 to $16.2B by 2020.

We will be hosting a short market briefing this Thursday (21st April, highlighting both market figures and vendor rankings in the 3D Space. To register, simply click here.

by CC

 

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A look at Canon in the future

Canon EXPOs have been held every five years since 2000 in New York, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai (although the fourth Shanghai event is scheduled for 2016). Each event has a different theme, but all have the same purpose: to introduce and define Canon’s five-year vision and strategy.

I had the chance to attend the Canon EXPO Paris last year and have to admit that the event was an impressive exposition of existing and future imaging products, technologies, services and solutions. Some of the prototypes showcased – such as MREAL and the Rich Collaboration System – made me feel like I had travelled ‘back to the future’.

In his keynote speech, Fujio Mitarai, chairman and CEO of Canon Inc., reviewed current economic challenges and explained his vision for the future of Canon. Currently, most of Canon’s products are manufactured in Japan but he said this is to change in the near future. Canon is to broaden its operations and collaborate more globally: products for healthcare business are to be produced in the US while in Europe Canon will focus on printing and network solutions. Canon sees the EMEA region as ‘the brightest spot for growth’ and will be seeking partners across all regions to innovate and to change the ways in which people interact in the future.

Canon believes that the Internet of Things will depend on ‘Imaging of Things’ and this is where it sees vast opportunities for growth. The company wants to be involved in every stage of the process, and believes that every image will be connected via smart devices that can capture, record, store, edit, share and print. Canon plans to build an ecosystem of products and services by adding solutions for every part of the imaging experience in B2C (digital consumer services) and B2B.

Rokus van Iperen, president and CEO of Canon Europe, Middle East and Africa, stated that Canon will continue to focus on its core businesses while expanding globally, and also emphasized the importance of the rapidly growing markets that Canon will target in years to come: 3D printing, graphical arts and network visual solutions (NVS) to respond to the demand from security and retail markets.

Like many other vendors, Canon has explained and introduced new services and solutions for the B2B market in order to help businesses improve productivity and efficiency and enhance end-users’ experiences using one face to the customer approach. The company builds tailored solutions for vertical markets that have specific needs, such as finance, insurance, manufacturing and health. At the moment, such solutions account for one fifth of Canon’s total revenue in Europe – a figure which it expects to double in the next few years by increasing the number of partners with direct and indirect IT competences.

Value-added solutions go well with services (outsourcing, data and document management, workflow automation and marketing communication management, etc.), therefore, Canon continues to focus on these areas and simultaneously invest in its capability to build services by integrating and adapting their added value, and also creating partnerships that will help it to collaborate and remain competitive in the rapidly changing world of technology. Canon strives not only to digitize customers’ business processes but – in common with other vendors – to automate workflows. The next few years will show how well Canon manages to compete in this highly competitive space.

by ZB

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Global Metal 3D Printing Market Remains Hot in Q3’15

Worldwide sales of 3D Printing machines which produce metal parts were up +45% in Q3 2015 compared to the same period one year ago despite the woes in the overall Industrial/Professional 3D Printer market.

While North America remains the world’s largest region for 3D Printing with 44% of Industrial/Professional Printers shipped in Q3’15 going into this region, Western Europe leads in consumption of metal-based systems in this segment.  More than 56% of all metal systems shipped in Q3’15 were shipped into this region in the period predominately by Western European companies due to the heavy influence of Western European, and in particular, German company’s focus on developing and refining metal 3D Printing.

In terms of industries, the Aerospace, Automotive and Medical markets remain leading industries for metal 3D Printing, leveraging the power of Additive Manufacturing for its ability to offer mass-customization and/or detailed, low-volume part production previously not reproducible via traditional manufacturing techniques, with companies like GE, Boeing and Airbus leading the way.

As the 3D Printing industry continues to evolve away from just leveraging the technology for rapid prototyping, more and more metal machines are continuing to find homes alongside traditional machines on factory floors.

by CC

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Global 3D Printing Industry Passes 500K Units Shipped

While the global growth of the 3D printing industry in recent years has been phenomenal, with shipments passing the half million mark during the mid-point this year, 2015 has been a difficult year for both the Industrial/Professional segment and the Personal/Desktop segments.

Q3 this year saw long-time industry players Stratasys and 3D Systems continue to struggle. The former again laid off employees from its desktop/personal printer division, MakerBot, and the latter parted ways with its long-time CEO and president.

Both companies posted weak earnings the quarter, showing declines in total revenues of -18% and -9% respectively. But, as anticipated, various players from the 2D printing markets continue to move closer to full entrance into the market. Canon recently showcased an industrial/professional 3D printing machine at a company event in Paris in order to demonstrate technology that will be available under the Canon brand at an undetermined date. While Canon is still dipping its toe in the water, rival Ricoh has entered the market, introducing an industrial laser-sintering machine co-developed with its fellow Japanese company (and long-time industry player) ASPECT, Inc.

As Hewlett Packard splits into HP Inc and HP Enterprise, HP Inc is using 3D printing as a showcase piece for the new company and there are indications that its MultiJet Fusion (MJF) technology will be brought to the professional market in late 2016. It is also continuing to promote a desktop/personal 3D printer alongside its consumer SPROUT PC to showcase its 3D scanning capabilities and the two are reportedly often purchased together via HP.com.

While major 2D printing brands continue to move closer to the 3D printing market, each has opted to enter on the Industrial/Professional side at the moment with the Desktop/Personal printer market still marked by a hodge-podge of printer offerings from long-time additive manufacturing companies, start-ups and regional brands.  In Europe, for example, players like Spain’s BQ, Germany’s German RepRap, Italy’s Sharebot, Poland’s Zortrax, Dutch Ultimaker and the like tend to do well in their region but none enjoy truly global brand recognition yet.  Even the top brand in the world for desktop printers, Taiwan’s XYZprinting, is hardly a household brand showing the nascent nature of this side of the industry.

by CC

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