The NSW branch of the LIA held a discussion on 3D printing in Sydney last night, featuring industry representatives, and end users, culminating in a question panel.
The talk opened with Andy McCourt giving a brief history of the technology, including the boom and bust investment years of 2013-2015, and what the real-world applications are now, including within the print industry.
With a healthy dose of honesty, the owner of Composite Images, Bruce Scott, explained that it is not yet a lucrative market, with challenges to make money following the $500,000 investment he made into Australia’s largest 3D printing machine, purchased at drupa in 2016.
Scott says, “I could not think of a use for the small 3D printers, so I saw the Massivit printer and drupa and thought yes, that is what I need.
“Am I making money? Not yet, but I am starting to. Will I recoup it? I do not know.
“But printers are good at what we do, we are all about making images, whether that is 2D, 3D latex, UV, or any of the technology that is out there.”
Composite Images helped put together the 3D-printed Louis Vuitton installation in Westfields, Sydney in 2016, and the 3D-printed rugby players celebrating the sport’s World Cup.
Garry Muratore of Oce took the attention of printers in the room when discussing what he says is 2.5D print, a new application available to printers using Arizona products, in which a software program can create layered, textured prints without any additional hardware.
The Océ Touchstone software simplifies what was previously a labour-intensive, iterative process by turning it into an automated one. Muratore explains, “You simply start the job up on the printer before you leave for the night, and let it run.”
Citing research which shows that print buyers expect to pay a premium for textured prints, while print providers understand the costs to deliver it are more reasonable, he picks it as an area in which PSP’s can improve their margins and add value.
Konica Minolta and Fuji Xerox are more heavily involved and invested in 3D Print, through 3D Systems and Stratasys respectively, and touched on the rapid prototyping, medical, dental, aerospace, and educational markets which are already using the technology to improve manufacturing.
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