Since HP announced its entrance into the 3D printing space, other print and imaging leaders have looked for their own way into the market, as well. Companies like Canon have begun selling 3D printers, hinting at making their own, while Epson has implied that it’s hoping to develop the ability to 3D print “anything”. Even Kodak has partnered with Carbon to invent new 3D printing materials. The latest is Fujifilm, which has taken what might be considered a unique approach to getting into the 3D printing business. No, they won’t be making a printer or even materials for 3D printing (at least not yet). Fujifilm is going to be offering technical support services.
Just as Fujifilm Service implements inventory management, automated retail, and refurbishment services for photo-imaging and printing systems, and has been since 1983, the Japanese multinational will take on 3D printing services through their North American branch. They will be extending their expertise from these 2D platforms into the third dimensions, providing just about any service that consumers and businesses might need when dealing with 3D printing technology. These services run the gamut from installing a new machine to maintaining it and even training employees in the use of 3D printers. The company states on their website:
Our technicians have significant experience in and knowledge of the mechanics and methods used to control diverse printing processes, including expertise in x, y, and z axis controlled devices, such as 3D printers. And, our in-depth understanding of the importance of printing in many organizations enables us to provide best practices coaching and training for printer operators across a wide range of industries.
Consistently excellent service translates into the best performance and value from your 3D printing systems. Our reputation for service excellence is exemplary. But our customers put it best: “Because of the job you do, we are able to do our job better.”
The goal with their service is to help customers get the most they can out of their 3D printers. And they plan to do so through their already extensive network of locations in North America. As an established corporation, Fujifilm Service already has two strategically placed parts distribution centers, three depot repair facilities across the US, four help desks, and 500 field service technicians. With these resources, the company has a pretty long list of what they can offer potential clients:
- Initial setup and testing
- Operator training and education
- Telephone technical support
- On-site repair service
- Product exchange/swap service
- Depot repair service
- Routine calibration and quality checks
- Regularly scheduled preventive maintenance
- Replacement parts
And, according to Fujifilm, these services can be applied to a number of different aspects associated with the technology, including CAD and 3D modeling software, computer maintenance, electro-mechanical systems, electronics repair, and more. And they say that they’ll tackle every type of printer out there, including inexpensive 3D printers used in the classroom or home up to the advanced additive manufacturing systems associated with industry.
Given the complexity of most 3D printing systems, as well as the relative unfamiliarity that the general populace has with the technology, this could be a necessary and lucrative business for the imaging giant to initiate. If Apple needs a Genius Bar for its user-friendly products, it’s easy to imagine the genius necessary to install, repair, and train employees around industrial manufacturing equipment. At the same time, Fujifilm won’t find themselves competing with other imaging corporations entering the space. In fact, you might even find yourself calling Fujifilm Services to fix your MultiJet Fusion 3D printer from HP.