Recycling | 4 MINUTE READ

HP: Digitally Manufacturing a More Sustainable Future

Camille Caron of HP writes about driving a more sustainable industrial revolution and also promoting a more circular economy as we look ahead to 2020 and beyond. 


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A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking at HP’s Americas Innovation for Sustainable Impact Media Summit in Nashville about our plans for driving a more sustainable industrial revolution, powered by digital manufacturing technologies like 3D printing. Of course, the scope and potential of the 4th Industrial Revolution is too massive for one group or one technology to ignite it alone. However, I believe that 3D printing can—and will—help underpin the sustainable solutions that the future of our planet depends on, by revolutionizing how products are designed and manufactured across a number of industries, from healthcare, to mobility, to infrastructure.

Rethinking design and promoting a more circular economy. One of the biggest challenges facing every industry today is that of environmental, and by association business, sustainability. IDC predicts that by 2021, 40% of the top 2,000 manufacturers will utilize 3D printing combined with intelligent machine tools to optimize material usage, reducing waste by at least 25%—while also slashing inventory costs and C02 emissions. And, because nearly one-third of carbon emissions are related to manufacturing, the impact on the planet could be profound.

3D printing enables us to completely rethink how we design—using only the materials needed—and moving production closer to the point of consumption, while dramatically reducing carbon emissions and materials and resource waste.

Responsible innovation means we design for a product’s impact on the planet and its communities, not just for the product itself. Lightweighting, for instance, allows us to improve vehicle efficiency—a reason it’s top of mind in the automotive industry. Auto OEMs are under tremendous pressure to improve the emissions profile of their vehicles, given that 10% reduction in vehicle weight can result in a 6% to 8% improvement in fuel economy. 3D printing offers capabilities to help address this through innovative redesign of automotive parts. The longer-view promise is that highly optimized sustainability practices, enabled by 3D printing solutions, will tip the benefits into regeneration, where we move beyond minimizing impact and begin to actively replenish our resources.

Improving outcomes by democratizing opportunity and access. Because 3D printing is changing how the world designs and manufactures, delivering more personalized products faster, cheaper and more sustainably, it can enrich the quality of life for people everywhere.

3D printing also broadens access to essential services, such as healthcare. The promise of personalized medicine is catalyzing rapid adoption of 3D printing across the industry. Just look at how 3D printing enables uniquely customized prosthetics, disrupting the one-size-fits-all status quo, that are more functional, comfortable, and affordable than ever before.

At Rady Children’s Hospital, medical teams in their Innovation Lab are deploying 3D printing to create color anatomical models that allow surgeons to explore new parts of patient anatomy. It’s also enabling physicians to perform surgery faster, which means less time under anesthesia, improving the safety and health of all patients. And around the world—from the U.S. to Australia to Singapore—iOrthotics is using 3D printers to manufacture life-changing, custom-fitted orthotic devices and ankle braces. In doing so, they’re shaving weeks or months off the time patients must wait to have their mobility corrected or improved.

And this is just the cusp. Implications for bio-printing tissues and organs and creating devices for improved wellbeing will only continue to multiply.

Future-proofing education. Sixty-five percent of children entering primary school right now are destined to work in jobs that don’t exist today. 3D printing could create three to five million new jobs in the next 10 years—that’s in the U.S. alone. Without reskilling the current workforce and adequately educating the next, we could face a shortfall of two million alternative manufacturing jobs by 2025 in the U.S.

We need to educate current and future generations to make a successful transition to a diverse and inclusive 4th Industrial Revolution. This means programs to serve those displaced by automation as well as educational systems to reskill those with transferrable skills and prepare next generation talent—kids currently in middle and high school—for the “blue sky” jobs of the future.

Companies, governments, institutions and citizens must work together to make investments in educational and job-skilling programs to make the new digital industrial economy a reality. At HP, we are implementing best practices in workforce training to develop the next generation of diverse talent, working with partners to develop 3D printing engineering curriculum, and fostering ways to partner with governments to address skills of the future.

One example of this is the HP-NTU Digital Manufacturing Corporate Lab in Singapore. Founded in collaboration with the National Research Foundation Singapore, this public-private partnership (the first collaboration of this kind in Asia) supports the university’s efforts to democratize digital manufacturing on a global scale.

As I left the summit, amazed by the ingenuity I saw at our recycling facility, and the strides we have taken forward with efforts like launching sustainable products like the HP Tango Terra printer, I thought about the promise of 3D printing and my wish for the world in 30 years. My hope is that our educational systems, businesses and governments will have become fully invested in an integrated, comprehensive, and most importantly—truly sustainable—approach to digital manufacturing, thereby preserving our planet for future generations to come.

Camille Caron is the Director of Education and Sustainability for HP’s 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing business, focused on driving a more sustainable and inclusive 4th Industrial Revolution. In this role, she is responsible for integrating sustainability solutions throughout the business and developing programs to support the next generation of talent who will help change the way the world designs and manufactures.