HP to drive supply chain and manufacturing transformations using 3D tech
HP has announced new agreements with industry leaders Jabil and Forecast 3D to drive the future of distributed design, manufacturing and digital supply chains leveraging the power 3D technology.
As the global economy enters what many call the 4th Industrial Revolution, new technologies such as 3D printing are enabling an array of new business opportunities such as distributed design and manufacturing, supply chain services, and increasingly localised production.
“From multinational design engineering and manufacturing, to localised production, industry leaders such as Jabil and Forecast 3D are demonstrating 3D printing’s expanding role in the digital transformation of the $12trn global manufacturing economy,” said Stephen Nigro, President of 3D Printing, HP Inc.
“HP Multi Jet Fusion customers and partners represent critical links in a new value chain that’s rewriting the rules of design, production, and delivery, ultimately ushering in a new era of digital manufacturing.”
Jabil is one of the largest product solutions companies in the world, with more than 100 facilities in 29 countries. Jabil is complementing its U.S.-based HP Multi Jet Fusion installation with six additional production-ready HP Jet Fusion 4210 3D printers in Singapore, bringing its total to a dozen HP 3D printers.
The network of 3D printers underpins the new Jabil Additive Manufacturing Network, enabling design and manufacturing teams to collaborate across multiple geographies, manage incoming orders, allocate jobs across resources, and produce end-products in the locations best suited for their supply chain and distribution needs.
Currently, Jabil is using its network to unite product designers in Silicon Valley with Singapore-based manufacturing teams to accelerate the distributed manufacturing of products developed using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, among them parts for HP’s own 3D printers.
More than 140 parts for HP’s Jet Fusion 300/500 full-colour 3D printers are being produced by Jabil in what is believed to be the most 3D printed parts for any commercial product in the world.
“HP Multi Jet Fusion gives us the foundational 3D printing platform we need to deliver truly industrial-grade, production applications for our globally distributed customers,” said John Dulchinos, vice president of digital manufacturing, Jabil. “Our aim is to harmoniae the multiple regions, technologies, materials, and manufacturing workflows of the 4th Industrial Revolution and HP is an important partner in that effort.”
Forecast 3D, one of the oldest and largest privately-held 3D manufacturers in the United States, is adding six new HP Jet Fusion 4210 solutions to expand its fleet to 18 systems in response to increasing customer demand.
Forecast 3D plans to produce several million end-use parts on HP’s 3D printers in the coming year, delivering commercial-grade applications for clients in multiple industries including the medical, consumer goods, aerospace, defence, and auto sectors.
“Our customers across all industries have spoken – and they are looking for more of the speed, quality, and cost benefits for production applications unleashed by HP Multi Jet Fusion,” said Corey Weber, CEO of Forecast 3D.
“We are investing in this important 3D printing technology platform as we scale up to meet rising demand from international and domestic clients seeking to reinvent their product lifecycle.”
Japan Seeks to Revive Stalled Semiconductor Industry
Post-pandemic, Japan has seen the consequences of relying solely on foreign imports for its semiconductors. Over 64.2% of its chips are usually imported from South Korea and Taiwan, leaving the country dependent on its neighbours. Industries from auto manufacturers to consumer electronics firms wait for chips, to no avail. But now, the Japanese government looks likely to put real funding behind its semiconductor industry, with top officials emphasising their support.
Domestic supply chains have never been more important. Rather than remain tied to international shipping routes during shortages and delays, governments are doing everything in their power to develop local lines of supply. But the question remains: can Japan pull it off?
How Will Japan Pay For It?
Herein lies our first issue. Japan’s debt has rapidly increased over the past few years, and the semiconductor industry will need roughly a trillion yen—US$9bn—in this fiscal year alone. This cost, however, pales in comparison to what Japan could lose if it fails to keep up with Europe and the US. Both nations have launched aggressive funding measures to revive their local semiconductor industries. And if Japan refuses to invest due to its debt, it could slow down progress in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to autonomous driving.
According to Tetsuro Higashi, the former president of Tokyo Electron and Japan’s top government advisor in semiconductor strategy, ‘If we miss this opportunity now, there may not be another one’. Yet one advanced wafer fabrication factory can cost more than US$10bn, and any money poured into the industry will go fast. That’s why Japan, rather than invest trillions and trillions in failing domestic firms, is considering a second option.
What Do They Plan To Do?
Japan now intends to look abroad and convince overseas chip foundries to come to its shores. Its past failures mostly centred on trying to merge domestic firms that were already going through tough times. ‘This sort of made-in-Japan self-reliance approach hasn’t worked out well’, said Kazumi Nishikawa, a director at the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry’s IT division. ‘This time the goal is to offer a strong incentive for an overseas logic foundry to come to Japan’.
As follows, Japan will now reach out to industry partners and leaders in other countries, including the industry heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), to build Japanese bases. According to the South China Morning Post, the heart of Japan’s mission is a US$337.2mn research and development project in Tsukuba that will involve TSMC and more than 20 Japanese firms. ‘I think we need to cooperate with our overseas counterparts’, said Akira Amari, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. ‘[And] TSMC is the world’s top logic chipmaker’.
Indeed, if that’s Japan’s strategy, the future looks bright. TSMC recently set up a venture near Tokyo to research energy-efficient 3D chips with several Japanese partners. And in the future, the multinational chipmaker may consider expanding its Japanese operations—that is, if government incentives pave the path forward.