Canon, Inc. remains one of the most popular camera manufacturers in the world, though the rise in smartphone usage may cut into the use of the company’s analog and digital cameras. Remaining versatile for the Japanese multinational, then, is key and Canon has eyed 3D printing technology as means for maintaining its relevance in an ever-changing world. In March of last year, the Canon Marketing Japan announced a distribution agreement with 3D Systems to sell the 3D printing leader’s industrial systems. Now, the company plans to expand that agreement to Europe, where Canon will be distributing the ProJet 1200, 3500 series, 4500, 6000 and 7000 printers in the UK and Ireland, before moving onto the rest of the continent.
Canon will begin selling these professional 3D printing systems in the UK and Ireland at the beginning of March, with a focus on industrial usage, particularly prototyping for rapid product development in the fields of engineering, manufacturing and architecture. The expansion is, according to Jeppe Frandsen, Head of Production Printing Group at Canon Europe, a part of a larger effort in the company to continue branching out into new technologies.
Frandsen explains, “At Canon we’re continually assessing new market opportunities where we believe we can make a difference to our customers. It’s clear that, because of the potential business benefits it can deliver, 3D printing is one such opportunity. Not only does this add to an extensive technology portfolio that few can match, but we also believe we can deliver an exceptional sales and service experience to fully support our customers in this innovative and dynamic area of the market. This partnership, together with Canon’s own significant investment in R&D, reflects both our long term commitment to 3D printing and our ongoing dedication to deliver advanced technology and support to our customers to help them improve the performance and profitability of their businesses.”
The relationship is mutually beneficial, with the imaging expert and 2D printer manufacturer able to complement 3D Systems’ technology with their own experience in customer service and technological support. Michele Marchesan, Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer at 3D Systems, elaborates, “We are excited to team up with a proven and experienced partner like Canon Europe to expand our distribution across the UK and Ireland,” said . “Canon is a trusted provider of industry solutions with strong service and support, and we are thrilled to extend our advanced 3D printing technology to a wider range of customers and applications.”
Other large manufacturers of 2D printers remain hesitant, at least publicly, about entering the 3D printing market, with Brother only “looking into” the tech and Epson focusing on extremely advanced 3D printing systems to be released further into the future. Canon, however, has seen the popularity of 3D printing as used with its own cameras and has even toyed with allowing customers to 3D print mods for its Olympus line. With the camera manufacturer already knowledgeable about 2D imaging and 3D Systems keen on weaving the digital thread between objects in the real world and digital world, I wouldn’t be surprised if Canon was exploring 3D scanning, perhaps using photogrammetry, particularly given the use of Canon cameras in setting up elaborate 3D scanning studios.