Although you might not immediately recognize the name, Jabil Circuit Inc. is one of the largest and most operationally advanced design and manufacturing solution companies in the world. You probably use office electronics or carry a smartphone that was designed, manufactured and/or assembled by Jabil for one of its many brand-name customers. And, as a top Jabil executive told a crowd of over 80 industry analysts last week at the HP Industry Analyst Summit in Boston, they’re extremely excited to be among the first users of the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printing Solution, the world’s first production-ready 3D printing system.
“We’ve been a partner with HP on a variety of manufacturing fronts for many years,” John Dulchinos, Jabil’s Vice President and General Manager of Global Automation and 3D Printing, told me on stage at IAS. “We have tremendous respect for HP’s innovation, technical prowess, and ability to deliver solutions. So when we first heard HP was coming to market with a 3D printer,” he said, “they kind of had us at hello.”
New materials and methodologies from metal casting to injection molding helped to produce most of the products around us today. With refined workforce and manufacturing practices, and the computer automation of previously manual labor-intensive tasks, things have continued to be produced faster and in larger quantity throughout the past century.Despite all this, the basic design and manufacturing process hasn’t fundamentally changed over the past 100+ years. In fact, not only have the processes not improved but they’ve put a substantial strain on ournatural resources pushed production farther and farther from the consumer, and constrained design flexibility and customization.
Approaching the perfect storm
Over the next 10-to-15 years socioeconomic forces, advanced design and production innovation, and highly automated printing processes will intersect to create a massive transformation of design and manufacturing.As we discussed in the last issue of the HP Innovation Journal, how and where we design, sell and manufacture products will continue to become both hyper-global and hyper-local thanks to a globally connected world with a diverse set of local requirements. Production will move closer to the consumer, with local 3D-print service bureaus throughout the world, thus accelerating product delivery, reducing carbon footprint, and simplifying logistics and inventory management. How those products move from design to production to those 3D printing hubs will become easier, smarter and faster.Until recently we’ve been designing products for the 3D world in which we live, using 2D design and compute tools.
We’ve been largely unable to bring our physical inspirations into our digital design process. Sprout by HP marks a first step to overcoming that obstacle, enabling us to bring 2D and 3D objects directly into our product design workflow—allowing designers to manipulate and work with those objects using their hands—seamlessly blending our physical and digital worlds.
Democratizing design and manufacturing
Ultimately the success of this end-to-end transformation will rely heavily on the printing of the final product. With 3D printing comes the move from the traditional manufacturing process to additive manufacturing. In the simplest of terms that means rather than manufacturing mostly two-dimensional parts and assembling them together to make a product, you add layers of material thus building a product from the ground up with minimum or no assembly and more dimension. With the introduction of HP Jet Fusion 3D printers being showcased at drupa 2016, based on a disruptive HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, new levels of 3D production speed can be achieved, at reduced operating cost, for parts which offer an unprecedented combination of both fine detail and end part strength.
“And of course we love the roadmap, the idea that in the future we’ll be able to produce and control product design at the single voxel level,” he said. “That’s very impressive.”
Yes, the Mighty HP Voxel is indeed impressive. As I told the audience in Boston, it’s the magic ingredient that makes our 3D printers unique today and in the future. With the ability to individually address up to 340 million voxels per second, HP’s Jet Fusion 3D printers are up to 10 times faster than any other 3D printers on the market today, with unprecedented quality measured by precision and strength, and at the lowest cost per part produced.
And all that is on top of an open technology platform that will accelerate the adoption of 3D manufacturing and unlock the as-yet unimagined potential of the technology to reshape the world.
When Jabil committed to partner with HP on 3D printing, it validated our vision. But I wanted to ask John about Jabil’s vision: How will this $17.9 billion, 200,000-employee global powerhouse use HP’s Jet Fusion 3D Solution three years from now? Ten years from now?
"As we think about the next three years, yes, mass customization will allow us to create some really cool geometries, but what’s really captivating is that [3D printing] is going to support low-to middle-volume manufacturing,” said John Dulchinos, VP and GM, Global Automation and 3D Printing.
Jabil operates thousands of injection molding machines, and spends hundreds of millions of dollars per year in the delivery of injection-molded plastic parts.
“What really surprised us, as we went through the analysis with HP, was how we looked at our supply chain,” Dulchinos said. "What really shocked us was that a significant percentage of them made economic sense for conversion. “Moving those parts over to Multi Jet Fusion printing in the next few years will save time and money and improve the overall efficiency of Jabil’s operations.”
At HP we know that’s true: Up to half the custom plastic parts of our new Jet Fusion 3D printers are printed and produced with HP Multi Jet Fusion technology. Printing our own gears is simply better in terms of raw economics, and that doesn’t even count turnaround time benefits or inventory cost benefits.
That’s today. What about 10 years from now?
“When you take 3D printing and combine it with the trends of miniaturization and integration of electronics, and combine it with automation, the impacts are far reaching. It is going to redefine manufacturing,” he said.“We will be able to create geometries, parts and business models that are completely different than what we have today. It will support differentiated footprint opportunities and untold efficiencies. ”
“Today, we have about 100 factories spread around the world,” he said. “Ten years from now we may have 1,000 factories, or 5,000 factories, all smaller, and all concentrated in locations that are closer to where our end-markets are and where customers are, allowing us to produce products on demand.”
“That’s what’s exciting to us,” he said.