Scaling 3D printing out of the hands of hobbyists and into mainstream industries could soon revolutionise WA mine sites and open the door to budding local entrepreneurs looking for opportunities in Asia. 

HP South Pacific Managing Director Michael Boyle believes advances made in the technology could create the manufacturing production lines of the future with benefits for myriad industries, including mining.

“What this does is democratise manufacturing and allows us to play a part again in the $12 trillion manufacturing industry worldwide,” Mr Boyle said.

“What that means from a WA entrepreneur, or even a parts component manufacturer’s perspective, is that in 10 years you’ll remember the days when we use to grind metal and make components that had a lot of wastage, required a lot of energy, took a long time to machine.

“What this allows us to do is tap into a digital workflow. We’re seeing it in the automotive industry but this could go into mining.

“For example, there will come a day where 3D printers are sitting on sites. Something breaks you go and print it. You won’t have to wait for parts to be freighted in.

“That’s an opportunity for local manufacturing or innovators of the future to say ‘what can we produce’ by being able to use plastics, metals and in the future, ceramics.

“We’re pretty excited that there’s going to be budding entrepreneurs out there who are going to find ways to completely eliminate some process that years ago we used to have and can now be fully digitised.”

Mr Boyle said he also saw huge 3D printing potential in the fields of orthodontics and health science sectors that require bespoke production.

Along with HP Personal System Director Ken Maher, Mr Boyle was in Perth last week to talk to clients about technology’s impact on the traditional workplace, particularly the rise of co-working spaces and on-the-run systems that can allow individuals to “build the industries of the future out of a coffee shop in downturn Perth”. 

“In the next 12 months we will have five generations of people working side by side in the one workforce for the first time ever,” Mr Maher said.

“They all come with their own personalisation and their own individual needs but the reality is that over the next three years over 50 per cent of WA’s 1.3 million plus workers will all be digital natives. 

“They’re millennials, digital natives and they want technology that works for them.”

Harnessing technology that allows individuals flexibility both at work and play could pay dividends for WA start-ups, in particular, with 60 per cent of the world’s population living in the same time zone, Mr Maher said. 

“They’re after flexibility and personalisation so they feel productive and proud of the products, devices and tools that they use.

“We’re seeing a significant shift in the workplace. Today, we are moving rapidly between physical and virtual work environments. There’s some really cool co-working spaces right here in Perth’s CBD.”

Image: HP South Pacific Managing Director Michael Boyle and HP Personal System Director Ken Maher, The West Australian.