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Future of printing discussed

March 30, 2016

Xerox mobile printingAmong the key factors studied include mobile, cloud and 3D printing.

Christopher Milligan, Marketing Manager at OfficeXpress Europe, wrote for IT Pro Portal about what the “not so distant” future holds for printing, noting that “you don’t have to think too far back to remember a time when offices featured single printers, single fax machines, and single photocopiers”. With the “rapid rate” of technological development, MFPs now carry out “an office’s entire copy and fax requirements”, and Milligan noted this transition was “essential”, relating this to the development of remote working, mobile device use and 3D printing.

He adds that “by embracing 21st century technology to stay on point with today’s ever-changing world, the printing industry has already offered up some strong indications as to what the not-so-distant future could hold”. With mobile printing, Milligan states that “most office workflows are so dependent on paper that printing will remain an essential aspect of the daily routine”, and the advent of mobile printing means volumes “may increase exponentially” in future.

The “vast majority” of OEMs have developed mobile print solutions, with Samsung’s near-field communication (NFC) machines highlighted in particular, while in terms of the cloud, printing has become an area to “incorporate this technology with”, though many businesses “struggle to make such a connection”. Milligan points out that cloud computing helps to simplify the processes in a business, using both Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print’s ease of use and “straightforward” operation.

Moving onto 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT), he contends that the technology is “still very much in its infancy”, but that it has “been making a bigger and bigger impact”, with hardware and wearable markets in particular interesting areas for development and growth. Another sector is 3D metal printing, which could help create “complex components” and move printing on another step.

In conclusion, Milligan believes that “not only will printing still be around for many years to come, it could also take on greater significance with things like the production of prototypes and improving office workflows”, addressing the fact that while “previously well-established technologies such as movable type and the printing press may well have disappeared as the result of an ever-changing society […] our fundamental requirement to receive a physical artefact from something virtual remains”.

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