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From Mobile to 3D Printing

Bret Fitzgerald

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May 30, 2014 10:19 am

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The news has been buzzing with the potential for 3D printing – from printing food, to possibilities in healthcare facilities, manufacturing, building maintenance, etc. There are a lot of reasons for different industries to get in on the action and potential benefits of 3D printing. At a recent industry conference, I even came across an opportunity to 3D print a miniature version of myself. I opted out, for the record –let’s leave the figurines and action figures for comic book superheroes.

The materials we are printing are changing; there’s no question about it. And although ink on paper will always remain relevant, it will be only one of many possibilities we can print. And, if what we’re printing is evolving, shouldn’t how we print evolve, too? Soon, businesses won’t be limited to printing simple documents, so they shouldn’t be limited to only printing from PCs, either. As printing capabilities evolve to 3D abilities, there’s a need for printing from any device to any printer – and mobile printing applications like iPrint are a step in that direction.

Without mobile printing, 3D printing is limited. Imagine a building maintenance worker at an off-site location, who arrives on the scene without the part he needs to make the necessary repair. There’s a 3D printer available and capable to print the part, and he has the file on his connected mobile device. Unfortunately, the whole point is moot because his device doesn’t have the capability to connect to the printer. Instead, the worker’s time has been wasted as he arrived on scene without being able to make repairs, and the building has to manage with broken equipment.

There’s still time before 3D printing saturates the enterprise as a mainstream capability. But mobile printing shouldn’t be that far off. The capabilities are there, and companies need to embrace more efficient ways to complete business functions in a mobile world. Printing is one of those functions. As enterprise IT continues to evolve, organizations enabling IT need to push forward to enable secure, seamless mobile productivity so truly innovative opportunities like 3D printing are not wasted.

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