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dmi:Design Value Award Winner - HP Inc. - Jet Fusion
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dmi:Design Value Award Winner

 

 

 

Strategic Use of Design to Reframe Market Opportunities

HP Inc. - Jet Fusion 5200 Series, HP 3D Print Experience Design

 

Most people consider 3D printing’s applications fairly limited, useful for one-off prototypes and small quantity runs for the maker community. It is true that the per-part cost of 3D production can be significantly higher than traditional manufacturing. And the part quality delivered by early 3D printers didn’t approach that of traditional manufacturing. As 3D printing evolved, new possibilities emerged for industrial design, supply chains, personalization, and scale. Unfortunately, many advantages remained theoretical, and inventors cobbled together solutions with the hardware/software equivalents of plywood and duct tape.

HP, an industry leader in hardware, undertook to invent an end-to-end solution that would make 3D printing effective for a production environment. The Design team employed a user-centered design process to learn manufacturers’ needs and deliver market insights to a broad, cross-discipline team. Design devised a three-pronged approach: doing user research regularly, experiencing competitors’ products, and communicating to the broader team about the market a big challenge when the market didn’t exist yet.

The process began by visiting the wide variety of people who used 3D printing at the time—visiting workspaces, asking how users worked, and how they wished they could work. Those conversations exposed their needs and created empathy in the team as pain points, workflows, successes, and failures were examined. This process was repeated with traditional manufacturers. Personas were crafted for more than ten factory roles in addition to the final consumer. Designers projected future experience scenarios, mapping users’ thoughts, feelings, and needs to each scenario. The wider team then began devising a productive user experience that made 3D printing practical for factories. The key role for the designers was to help visualize and build the various user experiences that the team brainstormed. Designers purposely chose generic materials to represent the product’s physical and digital elements to keep prototypes accessible to the whole team and to encourage members to make changes as needed.

The resulting HP Jet Fusion 5200 Series 3D Printing Solution (HP 5200) is essentially a factory in a box, manageable from anywhere. Each factory worker involved in development and production can optimize their work thanks to integrated software capabilities. Designers get suggestions that result in higher quality parts. Process engineers can quickly fine-tune production to save time. Machine operators are coached to improve the efficiency of each run. And management has a bird’s eye view, together with analytics, accessible from anywhere.

The company has already seen benefits just two years after design began, and the manufacturing industry paradigm—characterized by centralized, high-volume production—has been upended. Local production and supply chains reduce transportation emissions and speed time to market. New products and companies can achieve profitability sooner because of low start-up costs and faster development cycles. HP and BASF even developed a 100% recyclable version of polypropylene for 3D printing, thus eliminating waste in production.

HP and its partners have so far produced over 2.3 million parts for the COVID-19 response alone. In March, a Barcelona hospital, overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, needed face shields. The nearby HP 3D printing team mobilized immediately to develop prototypes using HP’s 5200. Within 24 hours, user feedback arrived from a San Diego HP team, and just days later, hospital staff had face shields. This one-week turnaround was only possible with HP’s end-to-end solution. Within a month, HP had donated 15,000 face shields, plus activated its global customer network, which produced thousands of shields daily for their own regions, using HP’s design. Concurrently, HP co-designed 3D-printable N95 masks, respirators, CPAP connectors, testing swabs and more, then shared the designs to enable production worldwide.

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