HP CTO Lays Out A Vision Of 'Fully Digital,' On-Demand Manufacturing

HP Inc. is accelerating its push for innovation in the 3-D printer space with its Jet Fusion line, but that's only one part of the equation when it comes to re-imagining the manufacturing industry in the 21st century, according to HP Chief Technology Officer Shane Wall.

Speaking during the HP Global Innovation Summit 2018, held outside Barcelona at HP's 3-D technologies hub in Sant Cugat, Wall said that "digital manufacturing" will be the next wave of how physical products are made.

[Related: HP Unveils 4 Lower-Cost Jet Fusion 3-D Printers And A New Partner Program To Expand The 3-D Print Channel Opportunity ]

"What I mean is end-to-end, fully digital manufacturing," Wall said. The process starts with designing digitally and using "immersive" technologies to aid in the process, he said. HP's immersive computing products include the Sprout Pro, which enables simple 3-D scanning of objects.

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"That design is transmitted digitally, probably through a blockchain, and that becomes your supply chain out to the edge where it's consumed," Wall said. "It's not sent to a central location where it's manufactured. It's sent to the location where it will actually be consumed. And then, on demand, it is [3-D] printed or manufactured as it's needed."

In that scenario, he said, "you now eliminate many of your warehouses and your storage areas and all of the things that are consuming valuable resources, that are taking up the resources of the planet and taking up spaces on balance sheets. You're now doing it on demand."

Government regulation, taxation and the nature of jobs will most likely be forced to change "when manufacturing is not done in one location, but it's spread around where it's actually consumed--and you're only manufacturing what you need," Wall said. "This is the vision that we're going after."